Hey, Havok is back! I know everybody thinks we review far too much retro thrash (or was it Mexican murder ballads?), but Havok is at the top of the movement and excels at what they do. I loved their Time is Up opus and AMG himself approved of their Burn platter (and he’s no friend to retro thrash, let me tell you). They know their way around the classic Bay Area thrash sound pioneered by the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Exodus, and they bring enough youthful exuberance to make it feel authentic and sincere. It doesn’t hurt that they can play the fuck out of their instruments either. To tide us over until their next full-length, they’ve seen fit to honor us with a short, four-song, semi-money grabby EP titled Point of No Return. It consists of a really shitty album cover, two new tracks, two remakes of thrash classics (Sepultura‘s “Arise” and Slayer‘s “Postmortem/Raining Blood”) and two live videos. While I think EPs have been largely relegated to the past by the new age of MP3s and streaming, and I can’t see running to the store for four songs, its fun, well done and a nice enough thrasppetizer.
Picking up where Time is Up left off, the title track is straight ahead, angry thrash just like they made in the good old days. It has a great sound reminiscent of old Death Angel and packs the appropriate amount of ass kicking attitude. The riffs are jagged and sharp and David Sanchez has some vicious rasps and screams. The solo work here is restrained but rocking, and Pete Webber’s drumming is aggressive and fun. “Cradle to the Grave” is even better, with a simple but hooky riff, a fun, thrashy gallop, and really pissed off, acid drenched vocals. There’s also some interesting solo-work and a whole lotta chunky, thick riff patterns. I don’t know if these tracks were leftovers from Time is Up or recent creations, but they’re right in that same quality zone.
Naturally, covers of classics never come close to the magic of the originals, but Havok does a fine job on Sepultura‘s “Arise.” Sanchez actually sounds a lot like Max Cavalera and they nail the frantic, 100 mile-per-hour attack that made the song a legend. Better yet is their go at “Postmortem/Raining Blood.” It takes a fair amount of nutsack to cover the Mac Daddy/Daddy Mac of all thrash songs, but they throw themselves into it with a passion and it sounds great. Sanchez’s vocals shine (the guy has the ideal thrash voice) and his screams rival those of a youthful Tom Araya. All things considered, a worthwhile cover.
And that’s pretty much it, folks. It’s an EP and there’s not much here, but it’s enjoyable and shows why Havok is at the vanguard of the retro thrashers along with Municipal Waste and Warbringer. It also reminds me I want a new album from these guys ASAP, and that’s its real purpose. Damn, that’s a shitty album cover!