Sixteen years of existence and five full-lenghts are an evidence of ambition, which is backed both by labels and fans. Denver’s Havok are one of the many new wave of thrash bands that emerged in the new millennium, but at the same time – one of the very few requiring special attention. It should be mentioned (perhaps) that only vocalist and rhythm guitarist David Sanchez has remained from the line-up that recorded the Burn debut, but this hasn’t stopped the band from releasing music of consistent quality.
V will be out on May 1st through Century Media, being their second release on the label. The fantastic cover artwork by Eliran Kantor is naturally the first detail to impress upon pushing “play”, with the second being….. wait… isn’t that Blackened starting? The slow build-up in volume of advancing guitar harmonies we know by heart from the first seconds of the Metallica classic are emulated in opener Post-Truth Era and this is not the only moment of familiarity. Ritual Of The Mind also starts with a reference to the rhythm section intro to Eye Of The Beholder, so, OK, we (and you) got the message – this is thrash played by the … And Justice For All rule book. The style of Havok has evolved a bit towards the technical side of things, bringing forward, apart from the already mentioned reference, some mid-period Coroner influences as well. The vocals are more in the Zetro vein, however, which raises the extremity factor a point or two.
Ritual of the Mind, Phantom Force and Cosmic Surgery are probably the most immediate and memorable songs here, but there is a pronounced progressive nuance to Betrayed By Technology, Interface With The Infinite and especially the EPIC 8-minute closer Don’t Do It. The new Havok album is certainly not the most original one (we have heard this 30 years ago already) but, honestly, it still is one of the most competent and rewarding thrash albums I’ve listened to recently. V requires repeated listens which can reveal new layers of details, which you haven’t heard the first or second time. Don’t get me wrong – this is not Watchtower or late-era Deathrow kind of engaging. We are still talking straightforward classic thrash with a ton of hooks and melodies to keep your head banging for 45 minutes. And isn’t that why we are thrash fans in the first place?