There’s nothing that can beat the adrenalin shot of getting slammed by a brutal, heavy metal assault. While for the uninitiated it can be an intimidating experience, for the metal fan there really is no rush like coming across a hitherto unheard of band and getting your ass righteously handed to you on a platter by the rush of drums, guitar and high-octane vocals.
‘Harm’ are such a band. Arriving as a double disc set, the first disc is a nine-track, thirty-five minute barrage of maxed out vocals, chugging thrash guitars and double-kick drum insanity. The second disc offers up an amusing DVD featuring the promo video for stand-out track ‘demon’ and a plethora of in-studio hi-jinx but in truth it’s the album you’re going to want to play time and time again until you suffer from whiplash so we’ll start there.
Opening with the barest of introductions, a soundtrack mish-mash of horror movie strings and backwards samples, Harm kick off with the brutal ‘the line in between’ and rarely let up from there to the finishing line. With brilliantly produced guitars tearing out of the speakers you’re instantly reminded of Exodus and the gravelly, hate-fuelled vocals do little to detract from that association. This is real, unadulterated metal and everything here is designed for maximum impact, from the crushing hammer-falls of the drums to the brilliantly mixed guitars and on to the devastating bass, everything here hits home with real force and this album is guaranteed to sleigh thrash fans with so much casual abandon. Having set the scene, the next track is ‘Demon’, a truly astonishing slice of heavy-metal horror, complete with chainsaw sounds and screams (both of which make much more sense with the accompanying video) and beautifully played and harmonised guitars. It is an AWESOME track – super fast and reminiscent of kataklysm’s brutal death metal fury and it features sterling performances from all the players. Undoubtedly the sound Kerry King hears in his head when he turns out the lights, ‘Demon’ is evil personified and it rocks like a motherfucker. ‘Eradication of the individual’ opens with a phased guitar riff that rapidly takes shape as one of the most evil thrash riffs this side of ‘reign in blood’ and the solos that abound, scratching across the surface are merely the icing on this grim metal cake. ‘Svartsynt’ is cut from similar cloth, albeit with a huge build up overlaid with the distressing sound of torment, and once again Harm are off on a vicious and visceral death-ride through horror-metal territory complete with exceptional bass playing and song-writing skills that certain better known thrash acts would kill for. And this is where Harm really shine – the songs. Each track has its own distinct feel and the band know better than to try to overegg the pudding, preferring to leap in, slaughter the listener, and vanish leaving the blood dripping from the walls and the screams still fresh in everyone’s ears. Make no mistake this is a great, heavy, metal record that should be obligatory listening for thrash fans the world over.
‘Demonic Alliance’ sees Harm half way through the album and utterly unwilling to let up on the ferocity stakes. The guitars have a great tone to them and thanks to the versatility of the players the sound never gets too one-dimensional, with riffs churned out and disposed of with clinical efficiency. ‘New brutal vitality’ is next and it’s another moment that veers between vintage Slayer worship, the Exodus riff machine and the heavier death metal of bands such as Kataklysm to create a storming, adrenalin surge of anger and aggression. Best played loud, this is the sort of music best experienced live and from the centre of a blood soaked mosh pit, but without one of those to hand, just pump the volume and watch your neighbours flee the scene. ‘Random numbers’ is equally oppressive – no time for acoustics here(!) – and the vocals, if it’s possible, seem to take on an even more inhuman aspect than before although that could just be fatigue setting in! the final two tracks cement the band (as if they needed any cementing) as major players in the thrash scene with the ultra-heavy, ultra precise ‘bleeding rust’ once again drawing heavy comparisons to Slayer and Exodus and ticking all the right boxes of extremity, while ‘fuck the fame’ closes on a high note at just the point where you realise you’ve probably reached saturation point.
Harm score highly because they have the song-writing skills and the experience to realise that music this extreme works best in short, highly focused bursts. Sure you can listen to a prog record for seventy minutes, but when the music is this tightly coiled and aggressive it’s better for the band (and the listener) to work the ideas into a few, astonishingly tight and well-written missives than to try to spread ideas thinly over an hour. Moreover what screams from the CD is the commitment the band members have and the passion they have for their art. This is a band that lives, eats and breathes heavy metal and the result is ‘demonic alliance’, nine almost perfect extreme tracks that provides the perfect soundtrack for building demolition and/or mass murder. The musicians are honed and ferociously tight, the production first rate – this is a great record for metal-heads and the DVD’s worth a spin too, if only to check out the amusingly brutal video for ‘Demon’. Check them out and head-bang till death – Harm are quite possibly your new favourite thrash act!