Thrash Hits

February 14th, 2011

Album: Havok – Time Is Up

Havok
Time Is Up
Candlelight Records
28 March 2011

by Tom Dare

The current wave of thrash revival bands may have produced its fair share of nostalgic rehashes with a short shelf-lives, but every so often a little gem has cropped up that thoroughly justifies the latest period of resurgence. Havok‘s second record Time Is Up is just such a gnarly little diamond.

Anyone labelling this as a “revival” record has totally missed the point. Havok are a thrash band, yes, but they seem far more interested in sounding like themselves than reworking Reign In Blood for the umpteenth time. The usual influences may be there – Testament and Exodus in particular, with some flavours of Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica floating around – but Havok have firmly put their own stamp on proceedings. Time Is Up realises thrash has been around for nearly thirty years and is aware the revival means the new generation has probably discovered the classic records by now and will spot an unoriginal yawn-bringer before the end of track two.

The juddering opening is smashed aside by the kind of punishing assault that gives the style its name. Life, limb, property; ‘Prepare For Attack‘ puts all three under threat with an air of gleeful abandon, a fiendish delight in destruction that continues into ‘Fatal Intervention‘. The riffs tear and whirl through some artful changes of pace while the continuously excellent lead guitar work shreds over the top and the pummelling double-bass kicks hammer underneath.

While the mischievous sense of forbidden fun permeates throughout, don’t write this off as mere party thrash. It may be entertaining to get drunk and fall over to, but there is a considerable amount taking place that maintains interest over repeated listens. The shredding liberally applied to much of the album contributes greatly to this, implementing catchy little licks that stick in the memory and serve the song rather than ego. Further, the song construction – the ability to develop their ideas fully and to make logical changes of direction while giving the impression that their only interest is breaking shit – adds a great deal of depth that crams in a huge amount of music into three to five minute songs.

Listen to ‘Scumbag In Disguise’ by Havok:

From the lip-curling vitriol of ‘Scumbag In Disguise‘ and the concerted attack of ‘Covering Fire‘ to the menacing swagger of ‘D.O.A.‘ and implacably vituperative title track that nicely ties up the end, the quality slips not for a moment. That Havok can do this while sounding so fresh and vivacious despite being firmly rooted in the classic thrash bands is even more impressive. Playing a style of metal that has been around 30 years always runs the risk of feeling tired and overly derivative, but Time Is Up is so lively and bubbling over with personality that it never so much as flirts with those potential pitfalls.

Thrash is alive and well in 2011, and if albums as vibrant and exciting as this are coming out of it, long may that continue.

5/6

Sounds like: Exodus, Testament, Vio-lence
Top tracks: Prepare For Attack, Killing Tendencies, Scumbag In Disguise

Havok – Time Is Up tracklisting:
Prepare For Attack
Fatal Intervention
No Amnesty
D.O.A.
Covering Fire
Killing Tendencies
Scumbag In Disguise
The Cleric
Out Of My Way
Time Is Up

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