When Harmful if Swallowed took the stage of the Viper Room on Saturday night, it’s clear they wanted to conquer the place, they only had half an hour to do it, but this didn’t appear to be the problem for the power-rock trio. They looked as determined as their melodious brand of post-punk-rock, well, at least this is the impression I got.
Guitarist Greg Martin and bassist Carlos Nieto were standing strong and tall at the front the stage, harmonizing together over their big-sound hooky songs while drummer Jay Pinfold was vigorously pounding his drums. The melodious part of the music combined with a punk energy was probably why I got more than a vague Bad Religion vibe for some of their first songs,… and after reading a few interviews, these guys would totally approve as they reclaim themselves from punk and post-punk rock, and lists Bad Religion among their main influences with Linkin Park, Fugazi, the Pixies and Face To Face.
They were a bit late because their RV had broken down on their way from Indio, but they caught up with time very fast once they started singing their energizing songs, propelling the sound to a new level. The Viper Room may be small and super intimate, but their music filled the place with this large rock-arena potential, as soon as they played their first song ‘In Trust’, a muscular tune fueled by a steady and robust drumming, driving the songs to a fast speed and louder level, while constantly buzzing with soaring harmonies. These harmonies were the common thread from one song to the next one, and ‘Dreamkiller’ was delivered with the same urgency and vitality. After a few jumps with guitars and the same explosive sound combined with forceful vocals for ‘Sleepless’, the title song from their new EP, they should have been out of breath, but they barely stopped, asking people to get in the front. They obviously played all the songs from their last EP, plus ‘Me’, a song from their ancient catalogue, during which the drumming became insanely fast and powerful.
‘Blame’, a song produced by Ryan Greene (NOFX, Authority Zero, Lagwagon), was a bit more aggressive with these same signature harmonies and hard hitting drums, but the fury unleashed in the song may be explained in the video the band released for the song last July: if the three guys seemed extremely friendly and jovial on stage, they are not afraid to explore dark sexual themes in their art!
Like all the songs they played, their last song, ‘Forever’, had all the signatures of their music, a very tight sound essentially driven by two big voices harmonizing over crunchy guitar riffs and mad drumming… But there was a poppy hooky part too, and this may have helped Harmful if Swallowed to get the attention of big medias, as their debut album Server was handpicked for a selection of MTV shows and KROQ DJ Kat Corbett became an avid fan and supporter.
After opening for some of the biggest names in music such as KoRn, Green Day, Weezer, FEAR, Bad Religion, Harmful if Swallowed is currently on solo tour, and they still have a few dates on the West coast. And if you manage to catch them in Seattle, there are a lot of chances they will throw their last EP in your face, for free!
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