Harmless Habit sound as confident as a band that have already paid their dues, and established a sound that is just as good or better than the bands that inspired them, and now give us a two way mirror into the rawness of their creative process with their 6-track album, “FRONTERROR” which feels heavy, hypnotic, emo(tional) and transformative. The best three words to describe this recording would simply be…TURN THIS UP! The album kicks off full force and doesn’t really take the pedal off the metal until very late in the album, and only for a few seconds. So if driving, riff-heavy alternative rock is your thing, then put in “FRONTERROR”, turn your player up and make sure that all the fragile items in your vicinity are anchored down. Every song on this album sounds like a single. Joey Vece (Vocals), Jon Suh (Guitar), Cooper Bourne (Guitar), Rinn Rucker (Drums) and Nick Fratianne (Bass) play a string of potential hit after hit after hit of crushing hard rock.
The pacing of the album is also flawless, no song feels out of place and there isn’t a second wasted on this. But what really makes “FRONTERROR” a marvel is its timelessness. That’s the one thing about rock that a genre like pop has a hard time trying to emulate.
This is the kind of the album you can rock out to as a young adult, and then when you grow up and come back to it, it will probably retain that same sense of awe. Getting the ball rolling is the title track, “Fronterror”, a headphone listen for sure if for no other reason than the initial guitar lines that eventually power into both sides of your speakers.
The track is a grungy, uneasy fast-paced rocker with Joey Vece’s somewhat muffled vocal intro leading the way and it’s worth it to stick to the end, where the guitar and vocals take the song out on a high note.
If you crave the heavy and emotional landscapes of hard rock, and the soaring angsty choruses of emo, there really aren’t many tracks in the last few years quite like “Freakshow”. This is close to being the best of bunch. The band’s chemistry is undeniable, and every member has place to shine, thanks to the tight production too. Nowhere are they as devastatingly dynamic as on “Damage Control”.
Harmless Habit have enough little signature touches – Joey Vece’s soar and scream, the massive low-end punch from bassist Nick Fratianne, the inevitably bouncy-yet-banging drums from Rinn Rucker; Jon Suh and Cooper Bourne’s complex and angular riffs, and the high-flying singalong choruses – that it’s easy to identify a Harmless Habit song even if you’re never heard it before. All these elements are beautifully compacted into “My Distraction”, and even more than perfectly so, into “Tight”, which also features a fiery guitar solo as a bonus.
In an age where bands seem to come and go, there is something refreshing about a band like Harmless Habit. Perhaps it is how they have a well-defined formula without sounding formulaic. Maybe it is that song after song, you are guaranteed to hear the band churn out instantly recognizable, hard hitting tracks.
Or maybe it is that they have outlasted and eclipsed many of their contemporaries in terms of artistic integrity, accessibility and musicianship. I think the answer ultimately lies in the closing track “Not Afraid To Die”, which includes all of the last-mentioned components.
The secret to Harmless Habit’s eargasmic sound lies in how well they combine strong vocal melodies, start-stop rhythms and choruses filled with hooks large enough to bait a whale. The band’s ability to straddle the lines between melodic and heavy, nostalgic and edgy, are Harmless Habit’s strongest weapons.