Review – Havok: Time Is Up

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Review – Havok: Time Is Up
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Havok: Time Is Up
Thrash Metal
Candlelight Records
March 29th, 2011
Release length: 42:05
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Havok is a Colorado, USA bred Thrash Metal act that formed back in 2004. Since then, the band has gone through a number of line-up changes, and issued a small amount of releases independently before signing to Candlelight Records for their 2009 full-length debut, Burn. Roughly two years later, the group returns with their awaited follow-up release, Time Is Up. While their previous effort didn’t really meet with the most open of arms, does this release have what it takes to win son more fans of the old-school Thrash sound?

It’s impossible to sit down and listen to Time Is Up without hearing plenty of influences in the music from acts like Exodus, both early and later Kreator, and even Sodom, though the latter feels like a bit of a stretch. This is becoming more and more of a solid trend for today’s Thrash revival, and Havok is another group that enters into the unoriginal foundation. However, like many before and after them, they typically play the music they essentially carbon copy well, giving the music an abundance of energy, and it just feels like the band loves playing the music, so you can’t fault the band for doing what they love and being good at it, having enough of a unique vibe to the music to make it stand out as the band’s own. Well, you could, but it’s not really necessary here. Time Is Up is an energetic Thrashing curb stomp to the listener that doesn’t let up, though sometimes doesn’t really know what it wants to sound like musically.

While much of the earlier material on Time Is Up seems to stem from inspiration by Exodus, the band quickly shifts gears in the music with “No Amnesty”, which actually takes on more of a Slayer punishing Thrash vibe with Kreator-esque vocals, but what is shocking for fans of Thrash, or music-games in general, is that this track will actually make the listener think “Thrasher” by Evile before immediately going with a faster, more intense Slayer sound. It’s interesting, though the song is far from an original sounding creation, though it’s undeniable that the song has a furious pace with music that will make you want to run to the nearest living thing and start a mosh right there. Then there’s “D.O.A.” which varies between old and new Kreator styles.

While the album often does feel a little confused as to which band to steal ideas from, one of the oddest elements of the music on Time Is Up that nags away at me, as a listener of music in general, is the more Crossover Thrash songs. While they aren’t bad, it’s the fact that they just feel as if it’s Murderdolls or Wednesday 13, but a more refined old-school Thrash approach to the music. “Killing Tendencies” shows that perfectly through the way the vocals are performed, holding more of a Punk approach to them, along with the melodic guitars and slower pace generally capturing a stronger Punk Wednesday 13 vibe to the music. “Prepare for Attack” doesn’t quite have that Crossover feel to it as strongly as “Killing Tendencies” or “The Cleric”, however, but vocally definitely sound reminiscent in the same way “Killing Tendencies” does. It’s more an interesting note, and one that those who never heard those bands before won’t pick up on, but in general it still holds the band back from having a much richer unique vibe to the music.

And, really, that’s the only thing about this recording that holds it back: The lack of originality. The music throughout the recording is insane and intense. There’s no way songs like “Prepare for Attack”, “No Amnesty”, and “Scumbag in Disguise” won’t cause a mosh pit to break out wherever the song is playing and pull any helpless souls in with it, or cause the pedal to go to the metal as it causes the listener’s blood to pound if behind the wheel. The tracks on here are solid old-school Thrash worship that places Havok at the forefront of the revival, and genuinely makes this effort worth checking out, but it’d still be nice if the band were to find their own signature or unique elements, to which there’s barely any other than the combination of bands utilized throughout the recording, giving it a song that isn’t necessarily fresh, as many others in today’s scene are smart enough to blend Kreator, Exodus, and/or Testament together at this point, but it’s just played with such raw energy and enthusiasm that it truly does capture the essence of Thrash back in the days of its youth, painting a vivid portrait of what made this style stand the test of time, and ultimately become reborn even when it never truly died.

So, what it boils down to is whether or not this less-then-unique album is worth the time to check out. While the group definitely makes the listener wish there were some more original concepts in play, it’s far from a bad release in any sense. Fans of Thrash will put this CD in, and immediately he or she will be transported to the day when Thrash was king, and feel brutalized by the many intense, furious tracks that make up this release. Havok capture the raw energy and passion that the original Thrash sound had which captured fans of Metal and converted those who weren’t, putting out an energetic release of solid Thrash worship that any fan of the style can get behind. Time Is Up is well worth checking out by any means necessary.


01. Prepare – 3:57
02. Fatal Intervention – 4:28
03. No Amnesty – 3:30
04. D.O.A. – 3:43
05. Covering Fire – 4:15
06. Killing Tendencies – 5:32
07. Scumbag in Disguise – 4:34
08. The Cleric – 4:46
09. Out of My Way – 3:20
10. Time Is Up – 4:00
Initial Pressing Score: 8.5/10

Havok
Havok

Digital review copy of this release provided by Candlelight Records.