“Havok” Conformicide – CD REVIEW by Adam McCann
Record: Century Media Records 2017
It has been in and around 30 years since the brutality of thrash metal owned the world and although many of the bands changed their sound when the decade tipped over to the 90’s, it is undeniable the sheer amount of bastard children that thrash metal left in its wake. These kids didn’t care about nu-metal or metalcore, they turned up it loud, took Whiplash by Metallica as their national anthem and adopted the motto of thrash ‘til death!
The thrash scene began to rumble again with the likes of Warbringer and Havok with both bands releasing their debuts in 2008 and 09 respectively. Whereas the former spend their time priming their weapons for a full frontal assault in the style of Slayer; Havok choose to incorporate the fast and intricate riffs that are associated more with Megadeth in the late 80’s and early 90’s. After releasing 3 albums on Candlelight Records, Havok signed with Century Media Records and after a 4 year break, Havok are back with their latest album; Conformicide.
Beginning with a clean picking reminiscent of Megadeth in their prime, Conformicide kicks off with an anthem of rebellion with F.P.C. – an acronym for Fuck Political Correctness and from this moment on, this sets the precedent for the album. Following this lovely clean intro, F.P.C. descends into the groove type riffing more synonymous with Testament before wait for it, a funky bass line kicks in as the guitars drop out giving the song more of a Suicidal Tendencies feel, especially when coupled with the anti-establishment lyrics that will not only rule over F.P.C. but also lurk around Conformicide in general.
Havok vocalist Dave Sanchez has possibly the ultimate thrash voice, his vocal delivery falls somewhere between Dave Mustaine style gritted teeth evident in the break down in Hang ‘Em High and Dogmanical at a lower decibel, to a Steve Souza style screech that wouldn’t be out of place with Exodus, all of which come together to make Havok so appealing. Sanchez also manages to pull a decent impression of Chuck Billy during the chorus of Circling the Drain which wouldn’t put the song out of place on The Legacy.
The musicianship on Conformicide is fantastic; the guitars of Sanchez and Reece Scruggs tear, riff and shred their way along that would appeal to any Megadeth, Exodus and Testament fans with some excellent twin guitar work, stop/start riffs and chant style chorus’ during Intention to Deceive. Intention to Deceive even starts with that satirical style news bulletin that wouldn’t be out of place on a Megadeth record and the drumming alone would tweak the ear of any Pantera fan with blast beats on the bass drum reminding us of Vinnie Paul in his prime; Ingsoc even goes as far to have a Walk style build up before coupling itself to a shredding riff straight out of the book of Dimebag himself. However, the twin guitar harmony that runs behind the final chorus is absolutely brilliant, it makes Ingsoc, with its 1984 Orwellian chorus, one of the standout tracks on Conformicide and just goes to show the musicianship that Havok are actually capable of.
There is a slight downside to Conformicide though and that there are points of the album that feel as if the song is a tad too long. Conformicide clocks in at just under an hour and as good as the songs are, they could do with being shaved down a tad, but other than that Conformicide will be a great addition to any thrash metal fans collection. Conformicide is a balls to the wall, good old fashioned thrash album. It is thoroughly enjoyable throughout and becomes more addictive with each play, it continues a strong run of albums by the Colorado thrash band and alongside Warbringer with the future of thrash is looking bright and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. 8/10
Adam McCann / MHF Magazine