Havok - Unnatrual Selection
I heard "Give Me Liberty...Or Give Me Death" a few days ago when they debuted it. I wasn't impressed at all, as it sounded like a song that would've gotten cut from Time Is Up. This is very disappointing since it is the second track. The first track "I Am the State" doesn't do much for me either. Pretty standard thrash fare, especially for these guys. In fact, it almost has a more punk-influenced, almost crossover sound that threw me off. I have no problems with bands venturing out of their genre confines, but for me it doesn't work. "Give Me Liberty..." ends with a cringe-worthy quote that lead singer David Sanchez says: "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."
"It Is True" has an interesting, almost Faith No More-esque odd and quirky melody with interesting guitar work in the chorus. That was the only thing that stood out to me on this song however. The mid-tempo E power chord chunk that already has been plaguing this record was ever-present in this song. "Waste of Life" finally has a change that I could get behind. They go for a more melodic approach rather than huge riffs and razor sharp vocals. Sanchez sings the verses (his singing isn't the strongest, but I have to give him credit for trying) and then a melodic guitar line builds up to the chorus, where they return to normal form. A huge, crushing chorus comes in, albeit the riffs are still sounding stale to me. By this point I'm noticing there is a bit more attention to melody in the solos as well. In Time Is Up, all the solos seemed about being how many notes they could fit into the allotted time for a solo. Sanchez's playing was a bit more melodic being that he's the rhythm guitarist, but lead player Reece's solos were always mile-a-minute shred. Although that's impressive and combined they have some of the best chops out there in metal, as a listener that can get old rather quickly especially since it's in almost every song.
"Chasing the Edge" is probably my least favorite song on the track. It just sounds too much like any other of their mid-tempo songs. The solo was a predictable 80's shred sweep arpeggio progression, and it ended with un-needed noise. It sounded like they were Megadeth after Countdown to Extinction: They didn't know how to top Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction, so they released Youthanasia. I couldn't even bring myself to get through "Worse than War," and for some reason they decided to cover Black Sabbath. On their last release, an EP called Point of No Return, they did two covers and they were great. This one was good, but they didn't do as good of a job as they did on Arise and Postmortem/Raining Blood. I guess it fits because it's a lot less gritty than the thrashier songs, just like this album.
The title track finally seems to go for it and shows some intensity. A quick galloping riff opens the song and carries through the verses. Unfortunately, it is quick to disappoint with just unoriginal songwriting and no variation.
This is probably going to be the biggest letdown of the year for me as far as albums go. I wasn't a fan of their first album released on a label called Burn, but I list Time Is Up and Point of No Return as some of my favorite thrash releases of the last 15 years. There are only a few positive things I can say about this album: The production on it sounds great. The guitars and bass have great tone, the drums were recorded in a theatre so obviously they sound huge. The performance given on the record was very good too, the band is incredibly tight. That said, there are so many things that bring this record down from unoriginal writing and songs that sound like they should've been scrapped to unsuccessful experimentation. If you don't mind thrash bands sounding like they are using leftover riffs from other bands, there's plenty to headbang to on this record. As for me, I won't be coming back to this record anytime soon, if ever. If I want to hear an incredible recent thrash record I'll listen to Dark Roots of Earth.
Genre: Metal / Family
Label: Candlelight Records
Site: Related Link
Similar: Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, Sepultura, Lich King
- I Am the State
- Give Me Liberty...Or Give Me Death
- It Is True
- Under the Gun
- Waste of Life
- Living Nightmare
- Chasing the Edge
- Worse than War
- Children of the Grave (Black Sabbath Cover)
- Unnatural Selection