Published Apr 30, 2020Calling your band's fifth album V may be a little on the unimaginative side, especially for a band like Havok, whose politically charged lyrics are some of the best-written in all of modern metal. The title may not say much, but the record still contains songs with titles like "Post-Truth Era," "Betrayed by Technology" and "Merchants of Death," the lyrics of which are exactly what should be expected.
With their first four albums, Havok proved themselves to be an unrelenting force in thrash metal, and easily one of the 21st century's most exciting metal outfits. They're now at the point in their career where many bands opt for a more radio-friendly sound to broaden their mainstream appeal, and 2017's Conformicide tiptoed dangerously close to that line. It would've been a disappointment to the band's longtime fans if V marked the band's attempt at their Black Album, but not entirely surprising. Thankfully, Havok have gone in the complete opposite direction, producing a serious contender for their heaviest record yet.
The songs on V are decidedly more aggressive than those on Conformicide, and with a fuller-sounding production than previous albums and an expertly-balanced mix, V shows just how huge Havok can sound. From the rapid-fire attack of "Phantom Force" to the rife technicality of "Interface with the Infinite," to the dizzying bass-driven "Cosmetic Surgery," the album has everything a thrasher would want, and should be heralded as the gold standard for 21st-century thrash metal.
In a genre where so much attention is placed on decades-old bands, bands like Havok can have a hard time gaining the respect and recognition they deserve. If there's any good that comes out of that reality, it's the fact that Havok aren't yet at a place where they can start to phone it in and not worry about losing their status. When few missteps will be forgiven, every album has to be a ripper, and this thrashterpiece is likely to be the one that ensures the band is remembered beyond its time. (Century Media)