Looking through the lineup of Download Festival last year I spotted a young and thirsty Thrash Metal band known as Havok! With the time free to see them I hastily made my way to the blue tent, the fourth stage, where I blown away by the energetic show these guys put on! They are no revival act, Thrash may of been huge in the 80s but Havok shred with passion. Heavy, hard and fast they have a relevance sounding as good as any Thrash band has done before them. I've only checked out their "Time Is Up" record going into this one and I will mention it every time I speak of Havok, their sped up version of Slayer's Raining Blood is simply brilliant! Do check it out if your a Slayer fan.
"Conformicide" Is charged with upfront, in your face political and social messages that spare everyone's feelings. Initially I felt as if the topics could of been handled with more thought and consideration. The opening track "FPC", fuck political correctness, a one sided argument, lacked thought for reflection but what should I of expected? Blood pumping angry music like this is about venting the anger and frustration. Take aim and fire, leave no prisoners is the Metal attitude and what anthems these fist pumping, head banging tunes become in the spirit of Sanchez's explosive lyrics, which gets its moment to unsurprisingly take aim at Trump.
Its lyrical theme falls perfectly into place as the tip of the spear lunging towards you in a brutal metallic assault of rapid, nimble guitar thrashing and precision drumming that makes a technical feet of all typical Thrash tropes. From the start you'll hear Thrash's best ideas rehearsed and re-imagined in a crisp clear and vibrant guitar tone alongside equally impressive drums. The tone, mix and chemistry is gorgeous, easy to adjust, intense and full on it brings an energetic and creative set of riffs to life, with quite a few songs building to a moment of riffing dynamism as well as some grooving baselines taking center on the odd occasion.
In its opening half Havok really set themselves up for a modern classic with great, memorable lyrics and riveting instrumentals to match but a handful of tracks in the record starts to rest on its laurels with both the riffs and words seemingly drifting towards mediocrity. Its political commentaries repeat themselves and large parts of the songs seem to fill out with a similar intensity of low string shredding and drum pummeling that doesn't muster up the same excitement. The guitar solos are sterling from start to end, illuminating some tracks and throwing much needed spice into the songs that have started to tame however they don't blow the lid off, simply capturing that Thrash style to perfection.
After its conclusion a little gem of a bonus track awaits, Pantera's "Slaughtered", a blinding cover with a very blunt scream style from Sanchez that always reminds me of how his shrill voice was far more tolerable than expected during this record. If the steam had kept on pumping Id be screaming its praise but it seems the band front loaded their best numbers and ran out of juice for the records second half. Both brilliant and disappointing, we are definitely going to get a cracking live show with these new songs.
Favorite Tracks: FPC, Hang Em High, Dogmaniacal, Intention To Deceive