Saturday, June 15, 2013

Havok - Unnatural Selection

In the last couple of years, Havok are one of the bands that have catapulted to the top of the thrash scene. Though they are not as commercially successful as bands like Evile, Warbringer, or even Vektor, they are making music that is just as strong. It was really their second record, “Time Is Up” that was a brilliant thrashing force that obliterated nearly every other thrash record of 2011. The recent EP was a disappointment for me, and many other fans, but it’s safe to say that the band is back on track with their third full-length album, “Unnatural Selection”.

From the opening track, “I Am The State”, the riffs begin, and from that point on, they never really stop. There’s little originality to the riffing style, but it doesn’t matter, as they are furious headbang-inducing riffs. The second track “Give Me Liberty…Or Give Me Death” keeps up the pace with it’s seemingly government hating lyrics. This track really emphasizes the brilliance of the drum sound and how pummeling the bass drums are. The band displays a tight rhythm attack, between the buzzing guitars and bass that is consistently heard throughout the track. Gang vocals are in full effect on this song, as well as on many others, and Havok does them as well as any other band out there. Lead singer David Sanchez seems to have settled into an even better vocal performance than before. His singing feels like less of an attacking shout, and more of a controlled singing approach. The guitars have a classic tone that is best appreciated when they are chugging; many parts of “It Is True” display this Exodus-like tone. In terms of the songwriting, there are definite highs. The aforementioned first two tracks, along with the closing title track are the most interesting. Most of the others tend to be enjoyable, but not up there with Havok classics like “D.O.A.” or “Fatal Intervention”. "Under the Gun" is really experimental for Havok. There are clear breaks in the verses for the vocals to shine, and one part of the chorus is pulled straight from Sebastian Bach's (Skid Row) style of singing. Nonetheless, the only true weak song on this record is the slower, plodding “Waste of Life”. Coming from a band like Havok that is all about intensity, it just doesn’t work as well as it would for a band like Evile. Likewise, the cover of “Children of the Grave” is somewhat out of place. It’s a great song in its own right, and Havok doesn’t do a bad job of covering, but it doesn’t really fit on this record. In general, you can never really go wrong with adding speedier songs to a thrash record, and I think that is an issue some fans may have with this album.

Aside from those two criticisms, this really is a worthwhile album. The thrash revival is all about riffs, and Havok brings them better than the vast majority of bands out there. There’s a bit of straying off the path at times (the unnecessarily long drum solo in the opener, for example), but “Unnatural Selection” shows there’s still quite a bit of life left from the new thrash bands.

Be sure to check out and like Havok on Facebook!

"I Am The State"
"Give Me Liberty... Or Give Me Death"
"Unnatural Selection"

Final Rating
4.1/5 or 82%. 

Written by Scott