I do not know what it is about America but boy do they know how to make thrash metal bands. Coming a shortly after the new Testament record Titans of Creation is Denver’s own Havok with V, which is funnily enough their fifth album. It is old school thrash but in 2020. It covers the usual topics of politics, fear, war and death and is sonically influenced by Metallica circa And Justice For All and Rust in Peace era Megadeth but with whiplash brutality and modern production values.
An angry diatribe against modern politics with a fearsome metallic assault and a resemblance to Metallica’s ‘Blackened’ in the shape of ‘Post Truth Era’ starts proceedings in fine fashion. The marauding, Megadeth like ‘Fear Campaign’ is of the same breakneck ilk – with David Sanchez’s screech and the gang chanted backing vocals working well together. This rage fuelled ferocity is persistent throughout the record, with the barreling riffs and nimble Brandon Bruce bass lines of ‘Phantom Force’ and ‘Cosmetic Force’ stellar examples of this. The penultimate track ‘Merchants of Death’ is a short serving of vintage thrash, with its anti war lyrics backed up by wonderfully manic guitar playing.
It is not all 200mph shredding, ‘Betrayed by Technology’ is a mid paced number with a Pantera like groove and some pleasingly melodic guitar leads. ‘Ritual of the Mind’, about the war on drugs and reconnecting with nature, is of the same vein with its marching rhythm and aura of menace. These make for a nice change of pace but on this front they save the best till last, namely the eight minute anti suicide track ‘Don’t Do It’. It starts off melancholic and slow but as is often the case the power builds to a climactic explosion and a fiery Reece Scruggs solo before succumbing to a calm outro. It may have been done before but they do it damn well.
Shorter and less varied than 2017s Conformicide, V is pure and unadulterated thrash metal full of tight songwriting, brutal riffs, fiery solos, nimble bass lines and vocals engulfed in rage