The veteran Austrian punk metal outfit Harmful understand something that their American counterparts forgot a long time ago: in order to be effective, in order for music to have an impact on the listener, one has to possess in equal measure energy, attitude, and the ability to create something memorable. Harmful are fine songwriters. Their attack is aggressive, intense, visceral, and at times, offensive -- just look at the record cover -- and saturated in hooks. Sanguine is the most fully realized effort yet from this fine trio who take their guitar sound equally from Hüsker Dü and the best doom metal bands. There are 12 tracks that all circle around the penultimate themes of alienation, rage, cultural indictment of hypocrisy, dislocation, and of course, desire: to destroy, to stand apart, to find a community, a pack of wolves with similar minds. Why Harmful aren't megastars is a mystery: just check the devastating heaviness in their hooks in tracks such as "Overfed," or the pure crunch and burn in "1 Lifetime." But nothing quite prepares the listener for the punishing drum and guitar overload of "Deliverance," where the buzz saws and turbines roar across the desperation and deserted heart chamber in Aren Emirze's lyrics and hunted voice. This is great stuff, and the best argument ever for a label to stick with a band while mature. Highly recommended.
by Thom Jurek