Conformicide (Century Media) is not Havok’s Master Of Puppets or Reign In Blood moment.
But that’s okay.
Every band thinks their latest work is their best. It’s a testament to their faith, their perseverance, their love and belief in what they do and create. Unfortunately, bands don’t get to decide which albums will become classics. The listeners decide. The times decide. The circumstances. More often than not, it just happens. It’s a combination of hard work, passion, and quite simply, a whole lot of magic.
While Conformicide may be the result of three years’ hard work, relentless touring, and much passion, it lacks that indefinable magic that makes a classic.
But, again, that’s okay.
Because the album is a heartfelt love letter to Thrash Metal of yore. Havok wears their influences like sleeve tattoos, and there are plenty of moments across Conformicide that will have fans of Nuclear Assault, Sacred Reich, Wrathchild America, and Death Angel happily banging their heads into oblivion. Vocalist/guitarist David Sanchez is quite adept at channeling his heroes, perfectly mimicking the whiny snarl of Dave Mustaine on ‘Circling the Drain’, and sounding so much like Mark Osegueda on ‘Intention to Deceive’ that one might think the Death Angel front man actually made a guest appearance on the album.
And Havok is a band that always brings it live. Conformicide’s tracks in such a setting will surely inspire plenty of black eyes and bloody noses in the pits. The undeniable verse riff in ‘Ingsoc’; the consistently awe-inspiring, infectiously groovy and slap-happy performances courtesy of new bassist Nick Schendzielos; moments like these deliver the goods that metal heads swill like beer. (Also, the album closes with a killer cover of Pantera’s ‘Slaughtered’, which is never a bad idea when done right. Spoiler Alert: Havok does it right.)
Sadly, there is little here to set Conformicide apart from the slew of stellar thrash albums already released this year, but give it a few spins; it can be a fun listen.