Harms Way - PSTHMN [EP] (Cover Artwork)

Harms Way

PSTHMN [EP] (2019)

Metal Blade Records

When Chicago’s Harms Way dropped Post Human in 2018, it was lauded for its heavy, apocalyptic themes and its industrialized shredding of what a hardcore album could be. Taking it one step further, PSTHMN, an EP of remixes from the album, chips away at formula and precedence even more.

Not long after the “hardcore” moniker was given to the more aggressive subgenre of punk, the same name was given to a similar brand of electronica (or techno, or EDM, or whatever the kids are calling it now). Very closely aligned and eventually simply merging with Industrial, the genre would be responsible for acts from Front 242 to KMFDM to Nine Inch Nails. It’s this industrial sound that inspired Post Human and comes center stage on PSTHMN.

“Call My Name”, as remixed by Justin Broadrick, keeps true to the original arrangement of the song, adding subtle drum machine breakbeats, squeaky filters, and bringing the vocals much lower in the mix while adding plenty of reverb, resulting in a deepened sense of isolation; a recurring theme across Post Human.

The original version of “The Gift” was perhaps the most truly industrial cut on that record. Reminiscent of the sparse, grinding atmospheres of Skinny Puppy or Cubanate, Andrew Nolan’s take didn’t need to stray too far from the source material. His version is much darker sounding, and he adds some sine wave hits, a creepy backing vocal, and length, but not much else. Perhaps a source with more to work with, such as “Last Man” or “Dissect Me” would have been better served here.

On “Unreality”, Casey Soyk gives us the biggest transformation of the whole set. While the Post Human version was straight-up metalcore, Soyk breaks down the elements of the original and pieces them back in a way thats nearly unrecognizable. Which, in my opinion, is what makes for a great remix. The vocal track is chopped up and slowed down. The guitars get tuned down and moved to the back, making room for Soyk’s wall of feedback, synth hits, and flanged screams.

Sanford Parker’s “Temptation” begins with vague pieces of the original lyrics hanging on for dear life within a sea of tribal beats and swirling synths. At about the halfway point, after decaying everything to nearly a full stop, the beat comes back in double time, and James Pligge’s repeated titular refrain blends into the wall of beats and noise hits. This one would not have been out of place on Nine Inch Nails’ Broken.

PSTHMN is a wonderful accompaniment to an already groundbreaking album. It’s dark, noisy, and experimental. Harms Way continues to produce music that refuses to be pigeonholed.