How could Havok be anything but thrash? One doesn’t even have to listen to the band to get an idea of what they sound like when one looks at the coloration and logo of the band’s debut album: Burn. And Havok truly lives up to their predecessors, need I name them? Kill ‘Em All era Metallica, Testament, and so forth.. actually, these guys sound like a re-birth of America’s most famous metal scene of all time: the bay area thrash scene.
That said, Havok certainly isn’t just rehashed suck. Sure, they’re part of this ever-growing but never-developing neo-thrash scene, but they’ve got something a lot of these new bands never have had: chops. The riffing on Burn is fucking killer. It’s not your average thrash riffing, but instead it’s like taking Reign in Blood and putting it on meth, face-ripping, kick ass riffing that makes you want to thrash like crazy (though, I still don’t want to wear shoes with puffy tongues like I had in 3rd grade). On top of that, these guys are pretty technical, too. Sure, it’s not mind-blowing, but it’s cool enough that you’re left thinking, “yeah, these guys were a good pick-up.”
Unfortunately, despite great riffing, good tone and grooving tightness, Havok suffers from one thing: totally retarded lyrics. I mean, yeah, they could be worse.. They could be Ravage, but instead, they’re just ironically silly at times or worse. The track “Identity Theft” is a perfect example of this. These lyrics are just outright bad and should never have been put on a record. Frankly, that jackass from Slipknot wouldn’t have even used these. “Identity theft! Who are you? Identity theft! Find something new. You think your different? To try to fit in…” “I don’t try to lead, others just like to follow me.” Seriously, my middle school band had bitter lyrics than this. This stuff is just sad and silly and it really detracts from the record as a whole.1 While the music is fucking fantastically interesting and fun, the guitar playing is stellar and the feel of the album is great, I think they should’ve used some black metal vocals or something to hide how totally dumb their lyrics are.
Of course, the bad lyrics don’t stop this record from kicking ass. There are stellar tracks on here, particularly “Path to Nowhere,” “Scabs of Trust” and the seriously excellent “Afterburner” which is easily the best track on the album. When it comes to thrash, there sure as hell isn’t a lot coming out these days that I think is any good, so let me be perfectly clear when I say that Havok is the most convincing neo-thrash band that I’ve heard. They’ve got the edge, the technicality, the chops and the all around presentation that make them a band to watch. And I’ll sure as hell be watching.