Havok - _Unnatural Selection_
(Candlelight Records, 2013)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (7 out of 10)
1-2-3-4, the drums rumble on. 1-2-3-4, the guitars chug away with a loud and crunchy bass right behind them. An enraged vocalist spews lyrics with some snarky commentary on governments, wars, social norms and your uncle's medical practice. Quite a simple basis of design for thrash metal, isn't it? This sub-genre of metal has seen the back end of its resurgent movement but luckily, there are some bands that live to tell the tale. Off the top of my head, I'd call out on England's Savage Messiah and the American gangs of Warbringer and Havok. Havok's sophomore effort _Time Is Up_ was very well received in 2011 by yours truly, and its successor _Unnatural Selection_ doesn't sound far off at all.

It all starts with the opening piece "I Am the State", where the pace is set high and quick. The rest of the band members have several moments to show their talent, like the great guitar solos on "Living Nightmare" and "Chasing the Edge" where both guitarists play off each other very nicely. The bass mostly plays ying to drums' yang, because the drumming on _Unnatural Selection_ is quite the rollercoaster to say the least. "It Is True" has a very clever drum break that takes the song from its upbeat rhythm to a more pulsating segment. More drumming highlights come up a bit later on "Chasing the Edge", where the drum breaks are especially helped by the crisp production job. The overall view here is one of a creative band of musicians that find it more comfortable to shine separately on their album, rather than come together and try to push the whole output forward in terms of originality.

However, the refined production and energetic performance put _Unnatural Selection_ a couple of notches higher than the multitude of thrash albums that do nothing but drive the screws of genre saturation deeper. Its reasonable forty eight minute length could have been more effective without the superfluous cover of Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave" but that's not the end of the world. They did however add their own touch to it, to make it sound more trebly and crunchy and fit a bit more smoothly with the rest of the tracks.

_Unnatural Selection_ is unsurprising and it's not meant to be anything else. It's a dynamic and energetic thrash album that stays true to the formula and partially succeeds at sounding fresh. This album can buy Havok a couple more years in the forefront of thrash metal where they find themselves, but if they keep churning out records of similar stature, questions will be raised regarding the potency of their output.

Contact: http://havokband.com/

(article published 23/8/2013)


ALBUMS
6/5/2011 A El Naby 7 Havok - Time Is Up
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