Havok - "Burn" Album Review

Maybe just because it's been long enough and maybe because it's overdue, the American thrash spirit seems to be undergoing a rejuvenation. Enter Havok, who is trying to shoehorn their way into a scene that has gone from being bare to suddenly being overcrowded. Still, in the eighties, there were four separate kings of American thrash: Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. Saying that Toxic Holocaust and Warbringer have assumed the pedestal, it wouldn't be impossible to envision Havok taking a place next to them.

The problem is, I'm not sure that "Burn" is well-rounded enough as an album to allow the band that kind of ascension. Similar to when I spoke of DevilDriver's new album, Denver's Havok has produced twelve cuts that seem to play as one long continuous track as opposed to separate episodes.

There are a few songs, "Morbid Symmetry," "Afterburner," and "The Diease," which include enough originality to rise above the din of the rest of the album. These three songs alone make the album worth taking a listen.

The rest of "Burn" is certainly not bad; if you're fan of the style, you won't be disappointed. The album contains elements of all four of the original kings of American thrash: long dramatic and orchestrated guitar solos from Metallica, break-neck gallop riffs from Megadeth, and hard-edged, unrelenting drums from Slayer. However, Havok is most identifiable as a disciple of Anthrax, with a solid mix of serious and tongue in cheek themes, stomping riffs with head-banging breakdowns, and the classic punk call-out choruses. "Burn" reminds me so much of "Among the Living" that I half expected to Havok to yell "War dance!" before going into every solo or mosh-minded measure.

There are some small drawbacks. Musically, originality is not Havok's strong suit, nor is high-flying musicianship. All the solos and riffs are relatively pedestrian. The lack of differentiation makes all the songs seem longer than they truly are, which is a rare problem for a thrash album to have. There's nothing exceptionally special about any members of the band, spare the fact that they seem to collaborate well, and the group is well-tuned to each other.

So Havok puts in an enjoyable entry, but I'll be much more curious to see if they can't progress into something more memorable in their subsequent efforts. If you're a thrash fan, you'll find enough to keep you happy. If not, there's nothing here to change your mind.

As I see it, two spots among the American thrash revival's four kings are still up for grabs, with any number of bands still fighting it out for prominence. It could be Havok, Evile, Gama Bomb, Municipal Waste, or maybe even Unearth, but the competition is still wide open.

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