Review – Harm’s Way: Isolation

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Review – Harm’s Way: Isolation
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Harm's Way: Isolation
Groove Metal, Hardcore
Closed Casket Activities
July 5th, 2011
Release length: 32:54
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Harm’s Way is one of the latest Hardcore bands from Chicago, Illinois to make their way to store shelves. Isolation marks the band’s first full-length recording, following up their 2010 EP release “No Gods No Masters”. With a strong following and plenty of positive feedback from the press, this Hardcore group is gearing up to leave an impressionable mark on the fans of the more modern interpretation of the Hardcore sound. But, does Isolation actually manage to do so, or is just another band lost in the modern approach to this treasured angsty approach?

Unfortuntely, this release doesn’t quite have the impact that it should. The Hardcore sound being played on the recording is pretty heavy and comes off deep with pounding guitars and a strong bass presence in the mix. The drums do a decent job of keeping up with things, but much of the album goes at a slower pace, which often is not reflected to nicely int he drumming, coming off a little more casual and sticking to a more generic Sepultura meets acts like Neurosis while still retaining am ore modern Hardcore sound. While the tracks do sound heavy from start to finish, and the material is tight, there is often just not much to look at outside the punishing breakdowns and some simple groovey riffs with drums that can sometimes feel a little too tribal for this release, such as with the track “Timing”.

The main issue is that Isolation just does not have anything too catchy, or any material that has a good bite to it. The production is not sterilizing to the music despite it’s cleaner nature, but the songs themselves are often just not too interesting. “Scrambled” starts things off with the more tribal Hardcore approach, but not long enough for it to really do anything until the music kicks in with a more Sepultura groove to it mixed with that stronger modern Hardcore sound. While the track is heavy and has a good beat, it just sounds generic and easily is done better by the aforementioned band, as well as even Soulfly and many others. By the end, it just sounds like a long introduction that simply doesn’t go anywhere, then ends with an audio sample that causes “Timing” to kick in like it’s still part of “Scrambled”, and again we’re given heavy music at a slower pace. Once more, this is another song that’s not bad, but just feels like generic groove based Hardcore and something other bands have done better. There’s nothing too inspiring, the songs never really seem to go anywhere half the time either with the only real dynamic changwes are a breakdown or a sudden little burst of speed that just adds a very little to the music to really make it sound different from the actual verse or chorus that came before it.

About the time you reach the title track “Isolation” is when the album starts to pick up, but not really by much. The same complaints can be found throughout the album, that the music is often generic for the style being played, and often is very boring or goes nowhere despite how well the band plays and how tight they sound. “Isolation” does change the pace up a bit and gives the listener a faster song that has a little more energy to it then other tracks, and becomes a little more enjoyable in the long run. It also doesn’t hurt that this track utilizes some two-step with the bass kicks and really just adds more Hardcore to the recording then there already is. “New Beginnings” is the same, but this track actually does go somewhere. The music starts off faster, and just feels stronger all together without becomes repetitive, stereotypical of the style, and all around far more enjoyable then any other song on the album. In a nice change of pace the band mainstains the speed, offers more to the music to show variety in the song, and even slows down towards the end in a manner other then just for a breakdown, which offers some variety. Tack on the tight sound of the music and the better all around performance, and this song becomes one of the few that actually does anything to sustain the album. Of course, right after that comes “Slither” which sounds like a slightly different yet rehashed “Timing”.

There’s no other way to put it other then that Isolation is like listening to a band trying to emulate Meshuggah in the manner of audio sampling in a way Rap use to be. It’s the same thing over and over with very little differences added to the song to really make it sound varied throughout the track other then a breakdown. “Isolation” and “New Beginnings” really mark the more enjoyable aspects of the album, but other then that the album feels like it just never goes anywhere. Some songs are alright, like “Breeding Grounds” and “Pretender”, but there’s so many faults to this band and their approach to Sepultura-like music that it’s really hard to get into. It’s impossible to hate the album though, considering how heavy it really is, and how tight the band is with each other, but overall the album is as boring as it is generic. The only positive thing to be said that hasn’t been said already is that the material for Isolation probably works out better on stage, as the heaviness of the songs on this recording sound like great material to just get into the pit with and start a mosh to. Other then that, Isolation by Harm’s Way really fails to deliver thanks to generic, boring, music that simply goes nowhere for more then three fourths of the entire album.


01. Scrambled – 4:10
02. Timing – 3:46
03. Isolation – 2:38
04. Breeding Grounds – 3:45
05. Becoming – 2:55
06. New Beginnings – 4:01
07. Slither – 4:10
08. Pretender – 7:29
Initial Pressing Score: 3/10

Harm's Way
Harm's Way

Digital review copy of this release provided by Closed Casket Activities
via Earsplit PR.