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Harm – The Nine

harmMuch has been said about the resurgence of riff-driven, progressively inclined metal in the past 10 years, with Mastodon, Tool and to a lesser extent Ghost attaining levels of success previously thought absurd. As with any of these instances, its sudden surge in popularity has spawned a fair share of imitators and, as per usual, the wheat continually seems to get lost in droves of chaff. But as far as international unknowns are concerned, Ontario’s Harm have the most potential to outgrow the pretenders that this writer has heard in recent times. The Nine, their sophomore effort, by no means reinvents the wheel, but it possesses a depth and a spirit that not many of their peers can rival.

Opening with the riff infested ‘The Salem Parade’, The Nine quickly reveals its ballsy statement of intent, with a distinctly guitar driven cacophony of bizarrely melodious dissonance. And yet, the band never devolve into pretentious noise rock in its near five minute length, with a solid yet subtle emphasis on groove which bleeds marvellously into ‘Little Pariah’, which calls to mind a more metallic version of Clutch while Steve Sharpen’s clean vocals echo Maynard James Keenan (with just a little more grit). Elsewhere, ‘Another Conspiracy’ carries the spirit of Pantera with it without any kind of mimicry, with vocal hooks straight out of Phil Anselmo’s book, while the brooding ‘The Chelsea Smile’ has more than a little of the aforementioned Tool running through its veins. However, what’s instantly apparent on The Nine is that, despite the fact that it’s easy to spot the influences that gave birth to Harm, there is an undeniable streak of honesty impounded into the album, and overall, Harm are successful in combining their influences into something far more distinct than you’d expect. Its greatest strength however is its sequencing, with the disturbing piano intro to ‘Hand Me Down Virtue’, the demented groove of ‘Pretentious’ and the utter despondency of ‘Sentimental Enterprise’ providing a suitably downtrodden triple threat to close the album and giving the album a unique flavour against the relentless punishment of the first seven tracks.

Given their location, Harm don’t seem particularly likely to be knocking down doors the world over any time soon, such is the injustice of the music industry. But the feeling this writer gets from The Nine is that the band is on their way to something very special indeed. Get your teeth stuck in now – Harm could be one album away from changing your life.

The Nine is out now via Frostbyte Media Inc

8/10

Track Listing:

1. The Salem Parade

2. Little Pariah

3. Philistine

4. Another Conspiracy

5. Stuck In Time

6. Argue And Grin

7. The Chelsea Smile

8. Hand Me Down Virtue

9. Pretentious

10. Sentimental Enterprise

 

Harm are:

Steve Sharpen – Vocals

Mike Allen – Guitars

Joe Schacher – Bass

Nick Smyth – Drums

 

Band links:

www.facebook.com/harmband

www.harmlive.ca

About Del Preston

So there I am, in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, at about 3 o'clock in the morning, looking for one thousand brown M&Ms to fill a brandy glass, or Ozzy wouldn't go on stage that night. So, Jeff Beck pops his head 'round the door, and mentions there's a little sweet shop on the edge of town. So - we go. And - it's closed. So there's me and Keith Moon and David Crosby, breaking into that little sweet shop, eh. Well, instead of a guard dog, they've got this bloody great big Bengal tiger. I managed to take out the tiger with a can of mace, but the shop owner and his son, that's a different story altogether. I had to beat them to death with their own shoes. Nasty business really. But sure enough, I got the M&Ms and Ozzy went on stage and did a great show.