Written by: EW on 07/09/2009 09:56:59

With the likes of Blood Tsunami, Onslaught and now Havok on their roster Candlelight Records is a label very much getting involved in today's thrash movement, a deviation from its traditional extreme metal leanings and a decision which reflects the popularity for all things thrash again over two decades after the genres' undoubted peak. The problem remains however that of all the bands to have released old-school thrash orientated albums in the past few years, to my ears it is only Blood Tsunami and Municipal Waste who have done so while adding something new to the template rather than simply rehashing past ideas. I'll leave you to decide if Blood Tsunami's extreme metal pedigree has anything to do with that, but for someone who was a thrash obsessive long before this renaissance took full swing the dearth of new styles and ideas is worrying for the longer bands go on repeating what their heroes did the sooner the genre is going to die a stylistic death, resulting in an army of high-top clad 18 year old guys wandering round with no opportunities to get their thrash on. Noone dares imagine the consequences of such a situation...

Of all the areas for comparison against the bands of the mid-80's one thing that can't be levied against today's thrash crop is a lack of ability in playing their instruments. Yes greater and more efficient production techniques these days have accentuated the nuances of the band members performances but the fact remains that today's leading bands (Evile, Gama Bomb, Bonded By Blood, Warbringer, Toxic Holocaust and the list goes on) can handle their weapons, resulting in albums that are always at the very worst mediocre and never bad. Such is the same with Colorado's Havok. The vast majority of their debut album "Burn" is a blur of buzzsawing hyperactive riffs laid atop some intensely speedy drumming and galloping rhythms, all in all being a veritable lesson in how to thrash.

And therein lies part of the problem. For a listener new to thrash metal will find more to enjoy in "Burn" than a miserable old fart like myself but on more occasions than I would like to bare witness Havok's take on the genre feels simply like an excuse to play fast, with no real menace or conviction behind their approaches. Thus on the surface "Burn" plays as another commendable dose of Vio-Lence meets Slayer meets Testament meets Metallica meets Kreator with some good songs like "Ivory Tower" and "Morbid Symmetry" standing out, but Havok's long-term potential cannot be guaranteed from this example such is the over-abundance of band's doing a similarly good job.

Frontman David Sanchez does bewilderingly go through a few styles in the album's 11 tracks, with an overall balance nudging Mr. Chuck Billy on the way to settling down to a fairly standard thrash fare. As my notes dictate however after a number of listens, hard as I may try I do not come away from the album feeling like I have been given a new lesson in thrashing. This feeling can largely be attributed to a lack of truly killer riffs and a production too clinical it has sapped away any individuality that I'm sure the band do genuinely possess in themselves.

Coming up somewhere as a second-tier thrash band of today, Havok have laid a ground mark they can well work to beating next time around; however in the interim "Burn" is a very solid yet largely unmoving thrash album to add to the genre's current revival.

Download: Ivory Tower, Morbid Symmetry, The Disease
For The Fans Of: Warbringer, Kreator, thrash
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 30.08.09
Candlelight Records

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