Havok - Unnatural Selection
Candlelight Records
Thrash Metal
10 songs (48:01)
Release year: 2013
Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Goat

The only forum response that my review for Hatchet’s Dawn of the End received a fortnight ago was someone chiding me for expecting uniqueness from thrash. Which I thought was a bit unfair to both me and the genre – there’s no reason thrash bands have less to make a name with than death metal, and if that genre can produce both Portals and Hieronymus Bosches, why can’t we expect a few more Voivods and Coroners from thrash? Whatever the answer to that, the Colorado-based Havok are not out to make a name for themselves through uniqueness so much as good songwriting and skilful playing. I was impressed with the band when I saw them supporting Suffocation recently, and I’m impressed with them on record, too. Even the rhythm section is quality; a clearly audible bass and drums that often strain at the leash to go off into technical dalliances elsewhere really help to enhance your enjoyment of what is some damn good thrash.

That’s despite the lack of originality, of course. Havok sound like something between Death Angel and Exodus, yet this is the third full-length from the band and it’s an excellent one that will please thrashers whether they’re looking for something different or not. Ostensibly a concept album about the tyranny of the state, Havok carry that libertarian fierceness through well into the songs themselves. Opener I Am the State builds quickly into a ripper, galloping along merrily with David Sanchez’s high-pitched vocals sounding straight from the 80s. The band shows off already with an intricate guitar-led instrumental section that gives each musician a chance to shine, even ending with a mini-drum solo! Yeah, a drum solo in the first track – you’d have to give Havok marks for trying even if Unnatural Selection was a poorer album…

Fortunately, it isn’t; the following Give Me Liberty… Or Give Me Death continues to keep energy levels high with infectious riffing and a memorable gang-shouted chorus. Cheesy intro aside, It Is True is another great track with a touch of Testament-esque groove and a hint of sneery Voivod oddness in the singing. Each track seems to have its own little touch to make it distinct, from Under the Gun’s Anthrax-y chugging to Chasing the Edge’s initial odd guitar squeals and especially catchy chorus. Sure, they don’t always work – Wasting Your Life repeats itself just a little more than necessary, despite otherwise filling its six minute-plus running time very respectably. Even the cover of Sabbath’s Children of the Grave is a killer, pumping up that classic groove into a crunching monster, and by the time the closing title track rolls around with its classic Slayer edge you’ll be well on board with the Havok operation. An impressive album from a band that deserves to rise above the moshpit of similarity that is the modern thrash scene – whatever their originality.

Killing Songs :
I Am the State, It is True, Under the Gun, Chasing the Edge, Children of the Grave, Unnatural Selection
Goat quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Havok that we have reviewed:
Havok - Time is Up reviewed by Crash and quoted 86 / 100
Havok - Burn reviewed by Thomas and quoted 71 / 100
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