Havok - V review
|Release date:||May 2020|
01. Post-Truth Era
02. Fear Campaign
03. Betrayed By Technology
04. Ritual Of The Mind
05. Interface With The Infinite
06. Dab Tsog
07. Phantom Force
08. Cosmetic Surgery
10. Merchants Of Death
11. Don't Do It
One of the leading lights in the thrash revival scene, Denver's Havok have rode their talents to the tip of the resurgent wave of thrash. Following up on 2017's mis-fire Conformicide is V, a return to form of sorts, but not the return to their place atop the wave they rode as their personal vehicle for much of their career thus far. Keeping the lyrical focus of prior, the band rein in their experimental aspects somewhat and streamline them to create an album aimed at their fans of old, as well as those who were picked up following Conformicide, with the resulting V. An album that is still expansive by thrash standards, but for Havok it is a more concise sonic attack.
The band are still up there with some of the better musicians in the scene; while they burn through bass players with an alarming rate, newcomer Bruce picks up where predecessors left off and gives V the trademark bass work, adding depth and flavor to tracks like "Panpsychism". Scruggs and Sanchez play well and with precision but ultimately little more than that; while everything sounds good, it is not very memorable.
The band do offer up an album of good but not great tracks; nothing will have you throwing down your headphones or forsaking the name Havok to the heavens. The album runs through smoothly and while it doesn't make you stop out of frustration, it doesn't make you stop in awe either. "Fear Campaign", "Panpsychism" and "Merchants Of Death" are the highlights of the bunch; while they aren't the brightest spots in the band's career, they will be welcome additions to any future set list by the band.
What hinders V is the lack of strong hooks, where before the band created searing and memorable riffs, the songs here play out with little to really stick in your mind except an imprecise gist of what the track sounded like on later recollections. The riffs aren't bad, but they are a far cry from Time Is Up, let alone Unnatural Selection. When the most memorable riffs remind you of someone else, i.e. Metallica with riffs in "Post Truth Era" and "Ritual Of The Mind". it does add credence to this idea.
Add into this the lyrics which, although they aren't bad and show a level of thought and precision, are in part undermined by the vocal delivery, which makes them come off a lot like Megadeth on Dystopia; akin to someone raving on a street corner yelling while waving a placard. Taking their cues from George Orwell and Phillip K. Dick, Havok jump the shark somewhat and while it does not ruin the album, it does distract you from the music. Like the raving of a madman on a corner, too much is said and in such a manner that everything bounces off you and nothing memorable remains. Take "Cosmetic Surgery" for example: all I can remember lyrically is the gang chants of "Truth Lies". If I had to sing the rest of the song I could mumble something similar but not word for word; think Bad Religion but not as well done.
While I have been a fan of Havok for years, I find myself underwhelmed by V and unable to sink my teeth into it. The album finds itself in a weird purgatory of sorts; it isn't bad but it isn't good either, and even with repeated listens for the want of it endearing itself to my ears I find myself shrugging my shoulders. It is a step in the right direction though and one that is at least strong enough to keep your attention should it serve as a stepping stone to something better that may come next.
||Written on 23.06.2020 by|
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