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Part of the progressive hardcore underground scene that revels in abstracting the form and blurring its definition with overt metal tendencies and droning ambient interludes, Harkonen began in 1995 in Tacoma, WA. Originally a five-piece with bassist Matt Howard and drummer Ben Verellen at the core, the group suffered the all-too-typical growing pains endemic to hardcore. Until 1997, the other members included guitarists Chris Vancourt and Bill Quinby with vocals being handled by Mike Jones. That lineup recorded Harkonen's self-titled debut single before the departure of Vancourt and Jones and the arrival of new singer Aaron Connell. As a quartet the group released another single, Hung to Dry, before Connell exited, leaving the group a trio. With Howard now handling most of the vocal chores, a full-length was released in 1999 for New York label Wreck-Age. Harkonen's lineup finally cemented, and they sped up their signature power dirges on Grizz, an EP released in 2001 on Hydra Head. The odd time signatures and feedback studies that peppered Harkonen's sound were perfectly suited to Hydra Head, home to Isis, the Dillinger Escape Plan, and other post-hardcore groups intent on pushing sonic boundaries. Their second full-length, Shake Harder Boy, was released by Hydra Head in 2002.