Thursday, January 30, 2014

Havok: Unnatural Selection (2013)

Not Suited to Survive Evolution

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Ah yes the retro thrash metal scene. This movement rose to prominence around 2005 to 2009 or so. There were a lot of people who loved this, myself included, and a lot of people who just wanted nothing to do with it. I think the scene resulted in a number of good bands who continue to put out excellent releases, such as Warbringer, Evile, Revocation, and the amazing Vektor. But there have been a number of short-lived or forgettable bands as well, such as Merciless Death and Bonded by Blood. After their first album I was pretty convinced Havok would end up in the first category.

I am not really sure what happened with this release. I never did hear the band's sophomore album Time is Up, so I am not sure if there were any issues at that time, but I did hear their EP from the next year and I was still very impressed then. The song compositions are still reasonably impressive and Havok still plays with a lot of speed and intensity, most of the time. It just does not sound as fresh and invigorating this time around.

The first two tracks, "I am the State" and "Give Me Liberty...Or Give Me Death" are definitely impressive, old-school Exodus-style romps. Things get a little weird after that though with the kind of strange riffing of "It is True", which still reminds me of Exodus, but much more of their experimental Fabulous Disaster era. That added to the Voivod-esque group vocals at the chorus lead to kind of an uneven track. And that's before the rap section completely derails everything.

From there the band has several more ultimately forgettable tracks. There are some nice moments, but there are some strange ones as well. The first two tracks hold up as surefire repeat listens, but most of the rest of the album is just too uneven or middling. The vocals get a little annoying at times. I am not sure why this is much more of a problem on this release than on others, but it is. Also the "Children of the Grave" cover is weird.

Havok does sound very much like Bay Area bands of the 1980's. The problem is that they do too good a job of sounding like those bands and they picked the era when many of those bands were doing some kind of weird things which was leading to the demise of the scene. We already had Forbidden, Death Angel, Exodus, and others. For a band to really thrive, they need to take their influences from those bands and deliver something new and interesting. This does not do nearly enough of that. I feel bad saying that because I really did like Burn. This just does not hold up to that standard.

I give this album 2 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I'm in that category of people who never really wanted anything to do with the retro thrash revival. I've mentioned several times that thrash was never one of my favorite sub-genres, so thrash imitators don't do much for me at all.

    I am sorry to hear that a band you enjoyed has had such a major misstep, though.