Havok - _Time Is Up_
(Candlelight Records, 2011)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (
If you've read more than one of my reviews of thrash metal albums, you may have noticed that I tend to compare American and Euro thrash quite a lot. I may also mention that the American scene has more quantity than quality, while the Europeans have it the other way around. This statement holds a certain degree of truth, but there are some bands that don't fully conform to these facts. Havok is one of them. This thrashoholic quartet comes from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and their thrashing formula sounds like someone has concocted it in 1986, carved a cave in the middle of the Rocky Mountains with a thermal lance, preserved it in there with all kinds acids and made absolutely sure it doesn't blow up in anyone's face until the early 2000s.Now I hear you asking, haven't we had enough of this new wave of thrash metal that sounds exactly like Testament circa _The Legacy_ with (sometimes) better production? Well, that depends on how tolerant and patient you are with thrash. Thanks to the Internet and the development of music recording technology, just about anyone can copy the formula and make it sound professional. Luckily, only a small number of bands are actually good at it. England's Evile and California's Warbringer are probably the first bands I can think of in this case, but now I have Havok to add to the list. _Time Is Up_ is their second album, and its surprises come in the form of how engaging and downright heavy the riffing and drumming are.Influences over the entire band are quite obvious, but the drummer particularly sounds strongly influenced by Dave Lombardo, and that's never a bad thing in my book; he pulled off a great job on _Time Is Up_. For quick reference, check out "The Cleric", which has the strongest transition and best drumming on the album. The drums are not the main highlight here however; the guitar work takes command of the foreground with some impressive soloing and lead lines on the likes of "Fatal Intervention", "Covering Fire" and "Killing Tendencies". The vocals are quite monotonous, but it's a good thrash tone, so it's a perfect fit despite the starkly Slayer-esque delivery of the verses on "No Amnesty" which forcibly remind me of Slayer's classic "War Ensemble". Exceptions have no place here, this is as standard as thrash metal could ever get, but in an enthusiastically thrashing fashion. The constant elements are executed to perfection and the album production is clear enough to make it easy to identify what's going on, yet trebly enough to sound as if it's been waiting on a shelf for 25 years. If the Bay Area sound is what gets your head banging, then you will definitely need an ice pack after the time is up on _Time Is Up_, because headbanging is the mission the guys from Havok have set out for themselves -- and after enjoying _Time Is Up_, I raise the approving metal horns and say mission accomplished.
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