Denver’s Havok have taken the thrash baton and run with it since 2009’s debut, Burn without perhaps gaining the fanbase they deserve. Conformicide, their fourth full length, may just change that.
Aided by producer Steve Evetts, they’ve served up a pristine, technically astounding opus that could define their career. Of course, Bay Area thrash – and Messrs Mustaine and Friedman – provide something of a blueprint, but Havok aren’t in the re-hashing business as songs like Hang ‘Em High and the gnarly, religion-baiting Dogmaniacal prove. The stunning Intention To Deceive, meanwhile, is a true highlight, distilling Havok’s sound into around six minutes of piercing riffery and spectacular solos.
The band’s commitment to raising their game has also resulted in the recruitment of five-string bass wielder Nick Schendzielos – formerly of Job For A Cowboy and Cephalic Carnage. His dexterous fretwork plays a major role in both driving and embellishing Conformicide’s material… and has given his new colleagues an extra dimension to their attack.
It’s a shame though, that Havok’s lyrics aren’t as sharp as their musicianship. Yes, their political diatribes are well intentioned, but they feel overly simplistic when compared to the astute commentary of say, Mike Muir or Phil Rind.
Nevertheless, Conformicide is a step up for the quartet, who seem determined to carve their names into thrash legend. Plus, along with a slew of recent releases, it shows that the genre’s noughties revival is evolving into something more permanent.