Havok’s third foray into that strange and often beguiling land called the “thrash metal revival” sees the Denver based outfit move on technically from their generally very well received second album-the spiky and dynamic Time Is Up– with another platter of incredibly well put together thrash songs that, if you didn’t know better, you’d swear got unearthed in a shoe box of cassettes from 1984, such is its authentic grab-you-by-the-throat-and-never-let-go ferocity.
However much one might love thrash metal- and I bow to no one in my admiration for the genre, growing up with the Bay Area Big Four as a very important part of my teenage years (yes, I am that old)- we need to be honest with ourselves: it has all been done before. The trick in not boring your audience is to write a pile of decent songs and, for the most part, that’s exactly what Havok have done with Unnatural Selection.
There is a sprightly energy and effervescence to the band’s playing across the entire album but notably the relentless title track, its equally highly energised opening number I Am The State, Give Me Liberty…Or Give Me Death and the punky, Slayer infused Living Nightmare are all splendid and splendidly delivered nuggets of thrash gold. There’s a fearsome groove underpinning It Is True that sees the band drop the speed but not the menace; there are echoes of Anthrax, Testament and Megadeth– fine company to rub shoulders with, I think you’ll agree. There’s also a deeply respectful but highly energised rendering of the Black Sabbath classic Children of The Grave.
Things I like about Havok #1: they make no other claims on you or you hard earned other than to be a thrash metal band- and they are a terrific one at that.
Things I like about Havok #2: they are a technically gifted group of musicians- this is as technically strong a thrash record I have heard in some time; great riffing, piledriving drums and solid, peel your face off guitar solos. Like I said, terrific.
Things I like about Havok #3: they do this stuff with the utmost sincerity, energy and love but they don’t take themselves too seriously; there is no self righteous piety here. And the album is so much better for it.
Unnatural Selection is thrash metal from the heart and from the gut. It is an album that is ridiculous fun as well as being metal thrashing mad. I want to go and put on skinny jeans and basketball boots and mosh around my living room. You don’t want to see this- really, you don’t- but I think you get what I mean.