REVIEW: HAVOK – “Conformicide”
The cultural tide is primed for the continuing wave of thrash music slamming ashore. Grinding and ripping the new wave of thrash is Havok with their new album ‘Conformicide’. This album is a serrated edge of metal featuring songs that cut into the depth of issues facing us today with deadly precision.
‘Conformicide’ starts with the haunting and eerie classical guitar opening of “F.P.C” before the popping clawhammer bass work of Nick Schendzielos punches you upside the head. The bass work on this entire album is extraordinary with great separation in the mix. This is a welcome change from a lot of metal mixes where the bass is lost in a wall of sound.
“F.P.C” is a great opening for the album as it puts a spotlight on where Havok are taking their music. They aren’t afraid to push the boundaries by working in tastes of other musical genres. At the same time, they are crafting compelling hook driven music that showcases the band’s songwriting skills.
The political and cultural themes are lyrically explored throughout the album. David Sanchez spits with venomous hate about the lies and betrayals of our elected officials on “Hang ‘em High”. On “Dogmaniacal”, Sanchez delivers a seething rebuke of blind faith and religious fanaticism. The military industrial complex gets a vicious thrashing on “Peace is in Pieces” with Sanchez snarling “Slavery through death, Bleed the country dry”.
The is no shortage of tasty hard hitting riffs on ‘Conformicide’. Guitarists David Sanchez and Reece Scruggs weave driving riffs filled with brutal intentions on “Intention to Deceive” and “Claiming Certainty”. In addition, the lead guitar work off Reece Scruggs is brilliant. His solos sound inventive. Instead of mindless shredding, Scruggs puts a master craftsman’s touch to create exciting leads that highlight the mood within each song.
Special praise should be given to the workhorse behind the drum kit, Pete Webber. He demonstrates a rock steady beat while spicing songs with his own artistic flair. Take a listen to the funky swing in “Ingsoc”, the hard hitting on “Hang’em High”, or the straight up rock of “Circling The Drain”. Webber’s playing makes the music on ‘Conformicide’ pop.
‘Conformicide’ by Havok is some of the best metal of 2017. It may be early in the year for such a pronouncement, but fucking listen to the album. This masterpiece is pissed off and full of teeth-gnashing riffs. Like you expect from great thrash, the band horse collars political issues with body slamming songs bursting with aggression. Havok have created their best album to date and it is fan-fucking-tastic.