Candlelight – 2011 – USA
Now this, ladies and gentlemen, is a shining example of what’s wrong with our metal scene at the moment. No doubt Havok are a talented bunch. Creative, dedicated, and imaginative musicians who care deeply about their craft. Unfortunately a lot of other similar creative, imaginative, and dedicated young men are doing the exact same thing. Name names shall we? Okay, how about Angelus Apatrida, Savage Messiah, Warbringer, Black Tide, Evile, Tuck From Hell, Vindicator, Evil Survives, Bonded by Blood, Hatchet…and the list goes on.
So the big question is when will this burgeoning thrash movement from the underground and below finally end? The irony is these younger bands are taking a step backward while their avowed influences—genre originators Exodus, Sodom, Testament, Heathen—are improving the state of the art. Such sillyness aside, Havok are indeed no exception to the current trend plaguing the metal scene. Unfortunately they’ve been a little hyped to excess by their label, who are propping the quartet up as if the whole genre’s gonna change because of their new album.
Such is not the case even if Havok have been around for a decade and released stuff for the past five years, they aren’t changing the rules. Far from it. “Time Is Up” isn’t the fivesome’s first album, though it does possess their finest cover art to date. The past experience is valuable as proof the band know their music and the knowingness shines throughout “Time Is Up.” The problem is…does the world need another thrash album right now? How about the same tired boring Slayer riffs and piercing screams circa “Angel of Death”? It’s like thrash bands nowadays aren’t even challenging themselves anymore, merely content to grind out the same generic sausage no matter how bland its taste has become.
Lo and behold, Havok actually transcend the humdrum on most of “Time Is Up” thanks to their unrelenting verve. The album starts okay with the fistful of metal that’s “Prepare for Attack” and maintains its composure as it progresses. The guitars from Reece Scrug, who is a master of the riff, are impeccable but lack distinction. Amind the blaze of passion Pete Weer’s drumming is perfunctory and David Sanchez snarls like everyone else in thrash. This writer hates tearing down a great young band, but the true merits of “Time Is Up” are hard to discern in a crowded scene like today’s. Damn it!