It’s not a secret that there was a lot of light on Havok at the end of 2016...and not for a very good reason. The thrash band got into a very public spat with Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine’s son and his tour management company over their contract, which caused them to be removed from a very choice spot aside Megadeth on their DYSTOPIA touring cycle. Not taking sides on this issue here, but it’s clear that this kind of dismissal simply didn’t help Havok while on the cusp of releasing CONFORMICIDE. Still, the band is one that’s been on the cusp for many years now to break through. While the negative attention may have hurt, it certainly didn’t quell them in the least from putting out what may just be the strongest thrash album of 2016.
With CONFORMICIDE, Havok have created their MASTER OF PUPPETS, SEASONS IN THE ABYSS, RUST IN PEACE or AMONG THE LIVING. Simply, CONFORMICIDE is a thrash metal masterpiece. It’s built on the foundations of the old school attitude - rage, hatred, politics, railing against authority. Musically, it’s just one swift kick to the nuts after another. The production is insanely good for music of this style without being so slick that the edge is removed. Finally, the band has found a way to capture all of this into longer songs without leaving the listener feeling that any song is dragging throughout this hour long onslaught of your ears. David “Dirty” Sanchez is clearly pissed off about society today, and he screams from the deepest pit of his stomach as he rages against the “United Snakes of America” on “Hang ‘Em High”. Teamed with the blazing solos and intense riffs of guitarist Reece Scruggs, there’s an intensity level that never quits. They are accompanied beautifully by unhinged drummer Pete Webber and bassist Nick Schendzielos throughout. More than at any other time in this band’s history, there’s far more musical parts that flesh out many of the songs. Tracks like “Dogmaniacal” and “F.P.C.” are some of the most musical songs in the band’s career.
PITRIFF RATING - 99/100 - I’m all in with this release. We are a quarter of the way through the year, and it’s hard to fathom anything coming out better than CONFORMICIDE. In Thrash, and probably most other genres, this is as strong a release as is currently created today. Hopefully the metalheads that have been loving Overkill’s THE GRINDING WHEEL for the last month and are ready to add another great release to their year will try this. It’s VERY unlikely you’ll be let down.