Harm’s Way – Common Suffering (Album Review)

Harm’s Way – Common Suffering
Released: September 29th, 2023

Line Up:

James Pligge // Vocals
Bo Lueders // Guitars
Christopher Mills // Drums
Nick Gauthier // Guitars
Casey Soyk // Bass



Some five and a half years since dropping Posthuman, their excellent fourth LP, Chicago’s Harm’s Way have spent the last half-decade touring like crazy, celebrating their earlier material, becoming a meme and crafting their newest record; Common Suffering. Posthuman – their first with Metal Blade – was perhaps the pinnacle of the group’s blending of chug-heavy hardcore, industrial music and metal, with shuddering Godflesh-like elements smashing head-on with pummelling beatdowns. Taking these elements and exploring even deeper into dynamics, polyrhythms and light/shade, new album Common Suffering sees Harm’s Way take the next logical step in their sound and style.

We’re immediately off to a powerful start with the huge ‘SilentWolf’. It’s pulsing, oft-kilter main riff lurches into big choruses and a great bridge; it’s a surefire great, straight to the point set-opener. The group refuses to step off the gas, with the high-adrenaline ‘Denial’ and the tense ‘Hollow Cry’ keeping the blood flowing. The latter’s reverb drenched verses and sledgehammer chorus – not to mention killer breakdown – make it another LP high spot, as to the following ‘Devour’. It’s killer main hook and vein-bursting beatdown outro it’s a surefire future pit-destroyer.

Common Suffering certainly offers a more paranoid and suffocating version of Harm’s Way than seen before. The combination of dark, ambient elements and repeated, building heavy parts show the band at their most powerful, as heard on ‘Terrorizer’ and the aforementioned ‘Denial’. ‘Undertow’, featuring King Woman, is a nice mood change in the centre of the record; it’s ever-rolling bassline and drum beat serve as a churning bed for the hauntingly melodic, yet still furious track.

Harm’s Way’s focus on creating grooving, hard-hitting great songs is what’s clearly key, as well as frontman James Pligge’s most personal lyrics to date. That’s not to say it’s not a heavy album; far from it, with guitarists Bo Lueders and Nick Gauthier turning Common Suffering into a riff-lovers paradise – ‘Heaven’s Call’ is surely up there with the most crushing material composed by the group to date. Common Suffering rightly climaxes with it’s excellent ending piece, ‘Wanderer’. Sludgy, doom-y and droning, it’s a monolithic closer, with Pligge utilising some great clean vocals, while the false-ending is utterly flattening. It feels like it wraps up the release perfectly – other acts take note.

Though Harm’s Way fans may have had to wait a long time between drinks, Common Suffering is certainly worth the wait. The quintet’s harsh industrial edge has been sanded back to reveal a tense, menacing side with a dollop of ambience and melodic-ism oft-seen in the metallic hardcore world – especially for a band of serious riff writers. A natural sonic evolution for Harm’s Way, Common Suffering sees the inspired group continue their uncompromising ascent to the top of this generation’s great hardcore acts.

Harm’s Way – Common Suffering tracklisting

  1. Silent Wolf
  2. Denial
  3. Hollow Cry
  4. Devour
  5. Undertow
  6. Heaven’s Call
  7. Cyanide
  8. Terrorizer
  9. Sadist Guilt
  10. Wanderer

Rating: 9/10
Common Suffering is out September 29th on Metal Blade Records. Order here
Review By – Andrew Kapper. Twitter: @andrew_kapper