HAVOK — Conformicide (review)

HAVOK — Conformicide album cover Album · 2017 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Taking their longest break between albums so far, four years since 2013's Unnatural Selection, Havok is back for the ultimate thrash attack. The years waiting were well spent, as this may very well be the band's greatest work yet and a new classic thrash metal masterpiece. It has everything that's needed in thrash metal, as well as some not as common elements in thrash.

Where to start? First off, Nick Schendzielos is a bass virtuoso and basically the Flea of thrash metal. Being introduced by bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Mordred, funk has been used in thrash before, but not to this extent. Schendzielos's funky bass licks groove and pierce the skin at the same time. Just take a listen to "F.P.C." and that funktastic opening to "Hang 'em High", and you'll see what I mean. The bass is always incredibly audible, and that makes the album essentially a bass player's heaven. "Peace is in Pieces" features a really cool fading bass run that sounds right out of an old school sci-fi movie. Perhaps the best bass moment on the album comes during the bridge of the finale "Circling the Drain". Damn, the sheer speed of the catchy and funky as hell bassline just immediately makes it impossible to not air-shred along to it.

David Sanchez and Reece Scruggs both deliver killer riffs that punch you in the gut. Every song is a book of riff after riff, that will be shredding through your head long after listening. Most of the time, the guitar grooves like a beast, with punishing hooks that slam you to the ground. Check out the chorus of "Ingsoc", and the grooves will crush your skull. Combine that with some odd-time signature riffing, and you've got a masterpiece. The soloing and harmonies often bring Dimebag to mind, especially the main riff of "Wake Up". One of the most fun songs is probably "Claiming Certainty", which sounds straight out of an old school thrash album in every way. The bass rattles in the back, while the guitar just shreds like there's no tomorrow. This song is not without a monstrous groove though, and like the rest it is absolutely teeth-crunching.

Pete Webber joins the ranks of Dave Lombardo and Gene Hoglan as a master of thrash drummers. There's the thumping double-bass, but it's sometimes mixed with the syncopation of funk to make it fit with the funky basslines. "F.P.C." probably shows this best, but there is no shortage of punishing drum fills. Returning to "Ingsoc", the drum syncopation is insane, and the rest of the drumming pounds into your head like a jackhammer. "Claiming Certainty" blasts the listener of their seat, and into the abundance of double-kick wizardry which is spell-binding. Just take a listen to the bridge, and try not to bang your head the the groove created by the excellent cymbal use.

Vocalist/rhythm guitarist David Sanchez sounds like a cross between Death Angel's Mark Osegueda and Dave Mustaine, nailing both primal screams and pissed-as-hell snarls. He gives one of the best vocal performances I've ever heard, and just spits pure anger and fury. He screams with so much conviction, that you can't do anything but either scream along or shut up and listen. Meanwhile, his snarls are the perfect sardonic Peace Sells-esque sneers. There's a lot to be angry and cynical about, and the lyrics are needed now more than ever. In a world where politics are like a big unfunny joke, Havok calls it all out. "F.P.C." attacks the growing issue of censorship and the effects of P.C. culture on society, and nails it beautifully. "Intention to Deceive" is a long-overdue rant on the blatant agenda-pushing of the mainstream news, where facts don't seem to matter as stated with "Never mind what the facts are. I made a story that needs to sell, journalism is an afterthought." "Dogmaniacal" takes on religious extremism, while "Hang 'em High" and "Ingsoc" tackles all of the inner political corruption.

Conformicide is really, in every way, a modern classic of thrash metal. The musicianship is all-around mind-blowing, and the production is piercing and razor-sharp. It's probably the closest I've heard for a modern thrash album sounding like the production on the classic late 80's and early 90's thrash albums. While Havok's always delivered killer albums, Conformicide sees the band come into their own sound. This is an album that really only sounds like Havok, and no one else. Along with Overkill's The Grinding Wheel, this is the best album you'll find in 2017. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!
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Gabimm wrote:
19 days ago
Thrash technical and progressive! Wonderfull album. Bass perfect!
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
It certainly is! It's been a while since I've heard bass this good.
Tupan wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Listened to some songs so far, and I must agree about the bass. It's amazing!


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