I admittedly went into this review with little background on Chicago's Harm's Way. I have seen the band mentioned across many heavy music outlets, but they remained to be a band that just sat off my radar. I sat down and absorbed the brand new full length, RUST, and was taken off guard by how much I dug it. The sound is a mixture of heavy beat down hardcore that segues into metallic hardcore with industrial elements. This album has some serious breakdowns scattered throughout the record, but this is not the chug chug open chord nonsense of hardcore's past. Rust was recorded by Andy Nelson (Weekend Nachos, Dead In The Dirt), mixed at God City Studios by Kurt Ballou (Converge, High On Fire), and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege (Obituary, Nails), which is 3/4 of a heavy music engineering Mt. Rushmore. The drums are easily the most dominant instrument in the mix throughout the album, while the bass manages to provide crushing low end without clouding the drum's intensity.

Opening track "Infestation" begins with a distorted, uptempo industrial beat, before a matching drum beat and guitar/bass buildup take things over. The main riff sticks out since it's played on one string, rather than a bunch of palm muted chords. Frontman James Pligge's vocals are dominant and commanding, and sound as intimidating as the guy's actual physical presence. (Seriously, look up a picture of this dude.) Each song presents it's own series of tempo changes, hitting anywhere from uptempo circle pit inducing riffage to slow, sludgy breakdowns. "Cancerous Ways" opens with an ominous, electronic passage that builds before the band returns to it's hard hitting ways. While maybe not intentional, the opening riff on "Amongst The Rust" is DEFINITELY the same riff from the 1999 Slipknot opus, "Liberate". It could very well be a nod to the past, as much of the album has that a late 90's nu-metal feel, while still being a modern hardcore album. I was taken aback by the clean singing on "Turn To Stone", a haunting female vocal is the focal point on the most progressive moment on the entire album. While looking to put a name to voice, the press release informed me the aforementioned guest vocal was by Chicago artist Emily Jancetic.

Overall, this album is a vicious hardcore record that definitely falls in line with Harm's Way's previous work. I recommend cranking this in the gym, and it just may give you the proper motivation to become as JACKED as Pligge. RUST is available now via Deathwish Inc.