Posted on by Oran

With most of the western world currently living in lockdown and a lot of uncertainty surrounding touring and live music in general over the last few months, many bands have chosen to delay releasing any new material.

As of late many metal fans have been starving for something substantial to sink their teeth into. Fortunately for us, Colorado-based thrashers Havok have chosen to unleash their latest studio effort ‘V’ as scheduled on May 1st.

Thrash metal has become somewhat of a minefield of mimicry and cliché, and it’s rare for the latest generation of bands to avoid the very well-worn path carved by the genre’s flagbearers.

Rarer still do we get something which can be deemed genuinely groundbreaking. Havok toes the line somewhere in between…

The album opens with ‘Post-Truth Era’, a fast-paced taster of what’s to come. The intro immediately strikes me as a rather on the nose borrowing from a certain Metallica song, but with that passed we get into something more original.

The opening three tracks are high energy pit starters, and I can’t help but think hearing them live would be a lot of fun. The production (Mark Lewis) is extremely polished and sharp, and although it lacks warmth, it gives the songs a shot of adrenaline and some definite bite. There are nods to various influences along the way, and fans of ‘The Big 4’ will find a lot to enjoy throughout the album with energetic, although at times unmemorable, riffing scattered throughout.

In the mid-section of the album, things start to really cook and get more interesting, it’s here that the band gets more inventive and there’s a real personality starting to emerge. They create a fantastic wall of sound with well arranged, multi-layered parts like the intro to ‘Interface with the Infinite’.

These sections really separate them from their peers. It makes for a powerful listen and shines as the album continues, something that could become a trademark of the band. They also show a great ability to build and maintain intensity. ‘Phantom Force’ comes to the fore in this regard, it’s absolutely relentless and shows the band can really deliver. Tracks like ‘Cosmetic Surgery’ bring the bands newest member, bassist Brandon Bruce into the spotlight.

He’s a powerhouse throughout the album, giving a great dose of surprises and lifting a lot of sections with his inventive playing. The bass has been given great visibility in the mix too which really stands to the whole album, adding a satisfying weight beside the other guitars.

The closing tracks on ‘V’ are certainly the highlights. Vocalist David Sanchez really shines here. He delivers much of the album with his signature snarl, which is very effective but becomes a bit one dimensional as the tracks wear on. There are more ideas on display here vocally, and they help bring the songs to another level.

Panpsychism’ drives forward with great purpose, the riffs are more unpredictable, and there are some interesting vocal moments at play. Again it showcases the band’s ability to build intensity.

Album closer ‘Don’t Do It’ is quite a surprise. Showcasing some great songwriting over its 8-minute runtime, it shows the band are capable of so much more than the many paint-by-numbers thrash metal outfits out there. 3/5

Overdrive recently spoke to David Sanchez about the new album. You can access the full interview on this link.

Mark Lennon 2020