Picks: Harm’s Way, American Nightmare, Hooded Menace

Last year, Chris had Black Map’s album in his Top 20 Albums of the Year. This year they’ve wasted no time in releasing a new EP, Trace The Path, and it’s excellent. Obviously. But it’s just a few tracks long and there are longer efforts to be devoured this week, so let’s get started.

Harm’s Way
Metal Blade Records

Well, hardcore done upped its game. In the wake of Forever, the scene’s fertility is bound to open it up to new ideas and the early pace-setter this year is the new album from Chicago’s Harm’s Way. By messing with tempo and technique, but never letting the in-your-face aggression too far from its position at centre stage, Posthuman has emerged as a thrilling collection of essential modern metallic hardcore. It begins at 100mph but, from the superb ‘Sink’ onwards, it’s unpredictable and packed with enough surprises and riffs to keep us headbanging from beginning to end. It gets weird, too. Gnarly.

American Nightmare
American Nightmare
Rise Records

The first American Nightmare album for 15 years is only a few minutes longer than Black Map, but it does enough to justify itself. I’m a fan of Wesley Eisold through Cold Cave but this self-titled album is effectively my introduction to American Nightmare. For a band fronted by a creative talent like Eisold, innovation is notably thin on the ground. Hooky, frantic, melodic hardcore isn’t, and that’s just fine by me. The stomp of ‘American Death’, the wail of ‘War’, the post-whatever groove of ‘Colder Than Death’ – these are flashes of hardcore punk good times that shouldn’t, but will, be overlooked.

Hooded Menace
Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed
Season Of Mist

There’s been some decent proggy metal released this year, on the quiet, and Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed by Hooded Menace is a fine addition to that offering. Death doom is the order of the day from this respected Finnish band, and if you like your riffs slow and monolithic then you need look no further. But from the very first track there’s a load of melody here as well, and the album hangs together superbly. Picking highlights is futile with works like this but ‘Cathedral Of Labyrinthine Darkness’ has plenty going for it, and ‘Cascade Of Ashes’ twists delightfully around itself to create an almighty atmosphere. It’s good, this. Give it a go.

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