I have no clue what’s being pumped into the water in Ontario these days (other than a plethora of drugs and micro-beads from body wash), but whatever it is it seems to be influencing a number of bands to hop onto the nostalgia wagon and churn out some pretty solid aggressive music reminiscent of yesteryear.
My musical tastes started to take form in the early 2000s. At this time, hardcore and metal were merging and splintering apart into numerous sub-genres—all ending with the suffix “core.” So, here we are in 2015, and Windsor, Ontario’s Heart and Harm have put out a pretty solid record in Damage, one that takes me back to those days of… call it a more stripped down approach? Just from the title track “Damage” alone, I was fairly certain how the rest of this record would go down—this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Damage” is a two-minute track that sets the pace with melodic riffs and dark tone.
Playing the sub-genre game is tiresome and redundant, but if I had to, I would place Heart and Harm in a more Post-Hardcore/Rock category. It’s certainly not Hardcore in the traditional sense, and their fleeting aggression lies mostly within the vocals as well as their use of breakdowns. Singer, Dan Seku, gave a very frantic, and even desperate, sounding vocal performance. The way he emotes, similar to Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, only Dan doesn’t sing. No, Dan utilises the half scream/talking styles, and doesn’t stray from that throughout the record—it is quite grating actually.
Guitarists, Mitch Bako and Jake Deacey, are clearly talented writers. In “Long Live Lost Love,” I liked the melodic break at around thirty-four seconds in. Another section with similar melodic sensibilities appears on the next track “The Self Control Of Man,” which almost gets ruined for me by Dan’s desperate vocals. I would almost rather it stay instrumental, so the guitars shine.
The album highlight is “If Only,” oddly enough for some of the very criticisms I mentioned earlier.
The whole song came off as a musical slam poetry piece, and it’s done beautifully. Dan delivers in his fairly standard yell/talk/scream style, but it was more passionate and less desperate this time. His delivery complimented the general mood of the song perfectly, and that helped give more weight to his lyrics rather than being a distraction like in the previous tracks.
The final track “Let Down” though was straight back to business, only a little more on the aggressive side.
When a band has a unique vocalist it will always have a polarising effect. Yes, I think they could have worked on those effects a little; Dan could have changed it up from time to time, maybe even tried some clean singing, but in the end that’s just me and my opinion. The album as a whole I believe stands as a good piece of work especially instrumentally, and I would relish the opportunity to see them live. This is the sort of band that could translate well to the live show, and, if executed correctly, these guys would put on a killer show.
Written By Paul Ablaze
*edited by Danielle Kenedy