Article By: Brian Halsey ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
There seems to be a growing faction of hardcore bands that just don’t care about the rules anymore. It’s now time to plant HARM’S WAY in the fertile garden of creative heaviness.
Their new release, ‘Posthuman’, extinguishes the flames of redundancy and punishes the masses with a new twist on a classic sound. Building on the success of 2015’s ‘Rust’, the Chicago natives are back with a refined version of their hard-hitting music.
‘Posthuman’ opening track (and lead single), “Human Carrying Capacity”, is the anthem of brutality that fans of ‘Rust’ would be very familiar with. Monster riffs, larger-than-life vocals, and an overall power that lets you know you’re listening to HARM’S WAY. From there, the band lays waste to expectations and plunges into some fast-paced, yet atmospheric industrial tuneage, fused with blistering rage on the second track, “Last Man“.
The third song, “Sink”, flips back to their signature sound and closes with what might be the heaviest breakdown on an album loaded with gargantuan breakdowns. “Temptation” is up next and it completely annihilates the parameters of what I thought a band like HARM’S WAY was willing to delve into. Different vocal patterns, inventive structure, and dare I say semi-ambient soundscapes (of course topped off with a megalithic breakdown) will surely make this a fan favorite.
Without over-explaining every intricacy, the first four songs serve as a solid template for the entire album. HARM’S WAY does what they were bred to do; beat the shit out of you. They are as vicious as ever – and don’t worry, they are still very much a hardcore band.
However, on ‘Posthuman’ they take quick and unexpected detours from their path of destruction to throw in a lot of industrial and bass-driven moments. There is also a lot of perfectly placed groove metal to accentuate the ferocity of their onslaught. It feels a lot like a band carving out space to take hold of a sound no one else is cranking out.
Produced by Will Putney at Graphic Nature Audio in Belleville, New Jersey, ‘Posthuman’ is the band’s debut on Metal Blade Records. Chris Mills (Drums), Bo Lueders (Guitar), James Pligge (Vocals), Casey Soyk (Bass), and Nick Gauthier (Guitar) have decimated our ears once again, with an album that is sure to please old fans and gain legions of new ones. Whether in the studio or on the stage, HARM’S WAY is aggression personified.
The band’s music is so dense that Hafthor Bjornsson couldn’t squat it, Zydrunas Savickas couldn’t deadlift it, Mariusz Pudzianowski couldn’t tie a rope around it and drag it down an airplane runway, and only James Pligge is qualified to rage on it. A year from now when pundits are musing about the heaviest records of 2018, ‘Posthuman’ will undoubtedly be near the top of the heap.
The double-edged sword of a breakout album is that many places will rate it without necessarily dealing with hardcore music on a consistent basis. We don’t really rock with the whole ‘number system’ at Riff Relevant too often, but I’m personally noting that’Posthuman’ is a 10/10 in protest of the few dumbasses elsewhere who dared to give it less.
HARM’S WAY doesn’t make music for you to sit around and smoke weed to. Get off your ass, bend some iron, dunk from the foul line, become a machine.
In addition to the new album, HARM’S WAY is currently selling out venues and crushing fans on tour. (Dates at the bottom.)
Their drummer, Chris Mills, was kind enough to set aside some time with me at the February 22nd Philadelphia show (flyer below) and answer a few questions, maybe even a few he doesn’t get asked so often…
RIFF RELEVANT [Halsey]: Congrats on the new album. What is your reaction to ‘Posthuman’ doing so well and even popping up all over the Billboard charts?
HARM’S WAY [Chris]: Thanks. It’s been really awesome to see the love and support. I think we’re in like the top 10 for hard music and also on the Billboard charts for top current albums. Right now we’re just excited to be out touring and putting on good shows.
RIFF RELEVANT [Halsey]: Now that you have this position of influence, I think it’s important you take a stance on a very heated debate. The youth of America are beginning to say that Lebron James is better than Michael Jordan. Being from Chicago, what are your feelings?
HARM’S WAY [Chris]: 100% NOT better than Michael Jordan. You’ve got 6 rings for Michael, versus 4 with a lot more help. So, I think Michael Jordan is always gonna have the win. Don’t get me wrong, I think Lebron is doing some amazing things, both on and off the court with the awareness he brings to socio-political issues and the positive impact he has on the youth of America. But if we’re talking strictly sports and the overall impact on the game, we’re going with Jordan.
RIFF RELEVANT [Halsey]: It seems like the first few shows have either been sold out or close to it. What has the vibe been like on this tour?
HARM’S WAY [Chris]: It’s been awesome. Toronto sold out. I think Brooklyn sold out. Massachusetts sold out. The vibe has been awesome so far. It’s been a diverse crowd we’ve been gathering. I think it’s an awesome package with Ringworm, Vein, and Queensway.
I think it really portrays punk, metal and hardcore, from past, present, and future. It has a lot to offer to anyone who is a fan of aggressive music, so we’re getting a real eclectic group of people to the shows and the vibe has been great. Everyone seems to be having a good time enjoying each band for what they are and the participation from the crowd has been awesome.
RIFF RELEVANT [Halsey]: So from what I understand, there are a few people in the band with teaching backgrounds and social work backgrounds. Do you feel that in kind of an indirect way, you’re doing the same type of positive work through your music in Harm’s Way?
HARM’S WAY [Chris]: Yeah, I have my Master’s in Social Work, so I am a licensed social worker and certified drug and alcohol counselor. James, our singer, he’s got a degree in teaching. People have asked me how I can do two vastly different things for work, but for Harm’s Way, I see it holding a very similar function. Social work is very relational, in the sense that you’re working closely with an individual and trying to help them make positive changes in their life.
In many ways, Harm’s Way holds that same function. We’re not just a band. It’s not just music. It’s music with a message. It’s music that serves the function of helping to connect with people and giving them the space to process kind of difficult emotions. Or let go of negative energy and negative emotions, stuff of that nature, so in many ways, both fields are very relational in that we’re connecting with human beings. It goes above and beyond the music. Soundwise, we may not be your typical hardcore band, but those punk rock and hardcore ethos will always be there.
RIFF RELEVANT [Halsey]: In terms of the hardcore scene, your influences have been pretty well documented, but I got a kick out of an interview where I saw James wearing an Oasis hoodie. Obviously, you can’t just listen to Burzum or straight death metal for 10-hour van rides. Who are the guilty pleasure bands that you enjoy, that doesn’t necessarily impact your music?
HARM’S WAY [Chris]: We’re huge fans of Brit pop, like Oasis and Stone Roses, stuff of that nature. In the van, we honestly don’t listen to a ton of heavy music, because we’re exposed to a lot of it on the tour. We listen to a lot of hip-hop, like Future, Migos, Kendrick Lamar, stuff like that. Tegan and Sara, Drake. We’re pretty diverse when it comes to listening to music, we’re open to anything.
RIFF RELEVANT [Halsey]: You spent three weeks in New Jersey for the recording of Posthuman. What were you doing when you weren’t recording?
HARM’S WAY [Chris]: We were going to the gym a lot. There was a gym on the corner of the street that was open 24 hours. So, after recording sessions we were going to the gym a lot. We were going into New York City to check it out, because of the proximity. We were just hanging out. Getting good coffee and food, seeing the sights.
Played some Nintendo, some Playstation. Watching Game of Thrones! Because the season concluded while we were recording, so we had to catch up on that, but for the most part we were just focused on recording. Even after hours we were refining songs and working on the production process.
RIFF RELEVANT [Halsey]: Lastly, have you guys noticed the Twitter trend that has kind of taken off with ‘New Harm’s Way makes me wanna…’? I’ve seen everything from the ‘New Harm’s Way makes me wanna buy a sword’ to ‘New Harm’s Way makes me wanna fight a bus’. What was your reaction to experiencing the completed version of your album?
HARM’S WAY [Chris]: Yeah, a lot of them are pretty violent things, but we’re not violent people. It’s more like comically violent, and we see it all as love. People say some crazy things, but I know what it’s like to hear Cro-Mags or hear Merauder and wanna punch a wall. You never actually do it. It’s just the intensity. You definitely come across some funny things on Twitter, but we see it all as love, and we’ll take it any way it comes.
There are only so many synonyms I can drop for brutality. The show was an intense and inspiring assault of hardcore. Don’t miss Harm’s Way when they come bust up your town – upcoming tour dates below.
Chris Mills: Drums
Bo Lueders: Guitar
James Pligge: Vocals
Casey Soyk: Bass
Nick Gauthier: Guitar
HARM’S WAY – TOUR DATES:
Mar 01 – Gasa Gasa, New Orleans, LA
Mar 02 – Dirty 30, Dallas, TX
Mar 03 – Houston Underground, Houston, TX
Mar 04 – Jack’s Patio Bar & Grill, San Antonio, TX
Mar 06 – Nile Theater, Mesa, AZ
Mar 07 – American Legion Post 8, Las Vegas, NV
Mar 08 – Holy Diver, Sacramento, CA
Mar 09 – 924 Gilman, Berkeley, CA
Mar 10 – Constellation Room, Santa Ana, CA
Mar 11 – The Hi Hat, Los Angeles, CA
Mar 14 – Kilby Court, Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 15 – Larimer Lounge, Denver, CO
Mar 16 – Davey’s Uptown, Kansas City, MO
Mar 17 – Fubar, Saint Louis, MO
Mar 18 – Pike Room @ The Crofoot, Pontiac, MI
Mar 22 – Underground Arts, Philadelphia, PA