CD Review

Harvyst – “Winter”

By Marcus Pan

WinterHarvyst are made up of Aaron (vocals/bass), Collin (guitar/vocals), Randy (drums/percussion) and Ian (keys/samples/vocals). The four of them consider themselves the “world’s only industrial metal jam band,” and their Winter EP of three tracks definitely show an unpolished, jamming sound to their music. It’s one of those “not perfect but not meant to be” feelings, echoing garage sensibilities and a quality wit and approach to the making of their music.

Originally born with members Brent Whetter, Randy Ferguson and Marty Langley, Aaron Klamer came about in ’99 attracted by the band’s current “insanity.” No More Light hit in January 2001. When Marty moved to California, Collin Schipper joined in fall 2003. Brent’s insanity, around 2004, began to become an issue and by 2005 he was replaced by Ian. Winter came out in 2005, originally born a demo as half the band’s line-up had changed by this point. Acid Victims Records enjoyed it, signed them and re-released it as an EP.

The music of Winter is terribly brutal, forceful and mind-flogging. Taking as many black influences abounding in the world today that they could find, they’ve mixed it up, jammed against it and the result is hardcore. No polishing here, and that’s just fine as polish would probably diminish Harvysts sound and make up. From the opening Ergot, through Mercury and closing with namesake Winter, the CD is just over fifteen minutes of mayhem pressed on plastic.

Ergot tears it open with heavy distorted riffwork with monologue samples thrown up against a wall of sound. Keyboard washes build an ambience to which vocals and guitar can hook to and the track, while experimental, becomes a solid arrangement with a movement and capability rather than a mishmash of sounds with no place to go. It’s been said that I don’t know the technical merits of guitar playing or metal[1] in general, regardless of having been a hardcore fan of the genre for 25 years. But I can tell the difference between playing loud with a purpose and playing loud in an attempt to hide a lack of talent.

Mercury opens with off-kilter guitar noodling with an excellent monologue sample – “They depend on hallucination for their philosophy.” Sneaky high-hat[2] brushes grow into an off step rhythm bringing us into what I can only describe as metallic trance. Just over halfway through it bursts into an exquisite cacophony of barraging fast paced metal that pounds your skull and ears with a fervor and intensity I haven’t found in years. Winter closes this EP and doesn’t waste any time getting directly into a fast paced rhythm movement to tear its way to the end.

I’m glad to see Harvyst sign up with a smaller label like Acid Victim, who will continue to allow the group to experiment and try new things without applying commercial polish to the whole. While sometimes being allowed to record and jam anything you want down, there’s also times when a certain level of personality and prowess creates an album that would be less jolting had it been controlled and cleaned. Winter is an example of such an album – joltingly viciously and raw as fuck.

Contact Information:
Acid Victim Records
Post: 782 S. Grand Hwy., Clermont, FL, 34711, USA
[1] In response to a review I wrote about Harvyst label mates Bury the Pariah’s Sociopathic Underground album. I quote: “…this reviewer doesn't really ‘get’ the super-technical metal stuff.” Then he went on to say I was 11 years old or something…I wish I was 11 years old!
[2] Yes I know the percussion is electronic…