Conformicide

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Band Name Havok (USA)
Album Name Conformicide
Type Album
Released date 10 March 2017
Labels Century Media
Music StyleThrash Metal
Members owning this album43

Tracklist

1. F.P.C.
2. Hang 'em High
3. Dogmaniacal
4. Intention to Deceive
5. Ingsoc
6. Masterplan
7. Peace Is in Pieces
8. Claiming Certainty
9. Wake Up
10. Circling the Drain
Bonustracks (Digipak Edition)
11. String Break
12. Slaughtered (Pantera Cover)
Bonustracks (Vinyl Edition)
11. String Break
12. Slaughtered (Pantera Cover)
13. Cleaiming Certainty (Live)

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Havok (USA)


Review @ Unitron

20 July 2017

A Modern Classic of Thrash Metal

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.

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Review @ hack

10 May 2017

...their angriest and most violent album to date.

Havok started out in the two thousands, sounding like an eighties retro thrash band. The music was very heavy and fast, but most of their songs had a similar layout. Their sound resembled Anthrax’s first album, Fistful of Metal. The lyrics were yelled out with limited range and skill. The guitarists hadn’t yet mastered the art of shredding. Then in twenty ten they acquired a new lead guitarist and drummer. On their twenty ten release, Time Is Up, the band grew up exponentially. Dave had increased his vocal range to hit the high notes and the guitar music improved with razor sharp slicing and dicing. But most importantly the songwriting was incredible. They could convert their classic thrash influences to modern standards. Their twenty thirteen album, Unnatural Selection, was a continuation of where they left off two years before. It sounded like an exciting clash of bay area and German styled thrash. In twenty fifteen they had a lineup change at the bass position. They recently left Candlelight Records and this is their first release with Century Media. It probably doesn’t matter to the fans, but it might give the band a marketing advantage.

The opening song, F.P.C, stands for fuck political correctness. Which is one of the main concepts that Conformicide is about. It starts with unassuming guitar picking and then abruptly transforms into an evil sounding guitar riff, with heavy bass lines and rattling drum beats. The guitar music pauses and the bassist plucks loose funk styled notes. David angrily snarls out the first lines, “they want to shut you up and put your mind in a cage.” “Dictate the words that you can use, freedom of speech goes up in flames.” Then halfway in the tempo speeds up with radical riff shifting and hyperactive drum flurries. The shredding intensifies with violent guitar picking and the lyrics are viciously shrieked out. “Political correctness: free speech is seized!” “Political correctness is a social disease!” Vocalist/rhythm guitarist David Sanchez co-founded Havok when he was just fourteen years old, with the help of some musician classmates. The band started out playing in the basement of his mother’s house. At twenty eight years of age, he’s been a hell of a songwriter, who has a knack for finding a catchy groove. There isn’t any actual singing on this album. It’s all angry yelling, screaming and screeching. His vocals mostly sound like a cross between Mark Osegueda (Death Angel) and Zack De La Rocha (Rage Against The Machine). But his shrieking vocals sound similar to J.R. Hayes (Pig Destroyer).

Lead guitarist Reece Scruggs has performed on the band’s three latest albums. At age twenty nine, he’s a prolific songwriter for this band, as well as an awesome guitarist. He’s also an active member of Monolith (USA-2) and has performed on two albums for Go Smack Alice. The violent thrashing riffs are delivered with a lot of power, in a surly bent. Frequently the vicious guitar chops and ornamental picking give way to intense shredding. Occasionally there are brief guitar solos, but they are subdued by the darkness of the compositions. The fourth track, Intention to Deceive, starts with the jingle of a news program and the voice of a broadcaster soon comes on. “Good evening, I’m Lie a Lot and in the news today we give you trivial stories to distract you from what’s really going on in the world.” “It’s five o’clock and here’s what we want you to think.” An intense guitar hook starts along with hard beaten drum rhythms. Then a catchy thrash melody is played, which resembles the old ADX song, Notre Dame de Paris. The drum beats shuffle along with chugging bass notes. The vocals are angrily growled out. “I’ll tell you what you need to hear!” “I’ll show you what I want you to see!” An ominous rhythm sways in, with low guitar notes and mid range bass lines. “Opposing independent thought, with the intention to deceive.” “Misinformation is the plot, with the intention to deceive.”

The seventh number, Peace Is in Pieces, starts with a casual drum shuffle and some odd science fiction styled guitar notes with reverberation. Which sound similar to Voivod’s old song Phobos. Then heavier thrash riffs work their way in and an all out thrash attack follows. The heavy and violent riffs chop forth with a headbanging rhythm. The vocals are screeched out with an uncanny fortitude. “Peace is in pieces!” “Never ending war keeps the profits high!” The bass notes are played fast and are complemented by fierce drum beats. The atmosphere is pervaded with relentless anger and blood thirst. “The people’s enemy, slavery through debt!” “Bleed the country dry, get away with murder!” An incendiary guitar solo whines out, before the explosive thrash riffs return. The previous bassist, Mike Leon, quit the band in twenty fifteen to join Soulfly. He was quickly replaced by Nick Schendzielos, who is also active with some notable death metal bands. He has performed on albums with Cephalic Carnage, Job For A Cowboy and Reign Of Vengeance. His bass lines bolster the guitar riffs and add some extra thrustto the explosive parts, with sudden power chords. It usually doesn’t stand out as a decorative component to these compositions, but colors the music with an extra shade of darkness.

Drummer Pete Webber is the short character in the band’s photos, who plays tall with talent and is arguably one of the best performers in the business. He started out as a preteen and studied an eclectic array of genres, including jazz and Latin styles of music. At age thirty two, he has performed on the band’s three latest albums. The drums are often beaten hard with lots of melodic beat tone patterns and cymbal crashes. He provides a hyperactive presence, taking few breaks from the intensity. Blast beats abound within these explosive compositions. The ninth song, Wake Up, starts with chaotic human noise and the sound of a siren. Then it abruptly breaks out with a sinister thrashing rhythm and melodic drum shuffling. The chorus vocals shout: “wake up!” A catchy high note guitar melody takes over, with a squealing climax. “Wake up and think!” The drums flutter and clutter at a fast pace. The vocals are screamed out in a frenzy. “Try thinking for yourself instead of accepting what you’re told!” “Do you want to be stupid and controllable?” Hard and violent thrash rhythms alternate with the groovy guitar melody, but the attitude is angry and vicious.

Their music hasn’t always been original, but the borrowings are only noticeable to the generation x headbangers who listen to the classic albums repetitively. On their past two releases, the compositions had a more amiable shredding groove. There are no ballads here and there is scarcely a dull moment. This is their darkest and most misanthropic collection of songs, there is no sympathy or mercy on this album. The textures are coarse and cut against the grain. As dark as it sounds, there is no resemblance to Slayer and the bay area influences have been forsaken. The previous bassist, Mike Leon, delivered more punch and was a better fit with this band than Nick Schendzielos. Drummer Pete Webber gave an awesome performance and played much better than he did on Unnatural Selection. Conformicide is their angriest and most violent album to date, Their official website says that this release compares to Master of Puppets and Rust in Peace. Time Is Up actually came closer to reaching those benchmarks. However Conformicide does compare to Pig Destroyer’s Phantom Limb.

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