HAVOK
"Burn"

(Candlelight)

01. Wreckquiem
02. The Root of Evil
03. Path to Nowhere
04. Morbid Symmetry
05. Identity Theft
06. The Disease
07. Scabs of Trust
08. Ivory Tower
09. To Hell
10. Category of the Dead
11. Melting the Mountain
12. Afterburner

RATING: 8/10

By golly, the thrash resurgence ain't over yet! Candlelight found yet another throwback thrash band with big-time talent in Denver's HAVOK and ended up with an album in "Burn" that is far removed from what is quickly becoming a watered down trend. Then again, I write that and realize the both LAZARUS A.D. and WARBRINGER have released monster thrash albums this year too.

As for HAVOK, they've undoubtedly spent time sharpening their axes and spending a lot of quality time with vintage TESTAMENT and EXODUS albums. Their style on "Burn" does not fit neatly into the category of either band, which is a good thing. Rather, most songs seem to blend the styles of both with the occasional early METALLICA (check out "The Root of Evil"), MEGADETH ("Path to Nowhere") , and NUCLEAR ASSAULT (the general calamity and loads of very effective, active bass playing from Jesse De Los Santos) bits thrown in. The album is frontloaded with the best songs, including those mentioned above, as well as highlights "Morbid Symmetry" and "Identity Theft", the former boasting a pronounced TESTAMENT structure right down to the young Chuck Billy patterns — something you'll hear throughout the disc to varying degrees. The latter track feature's the album's most memorable chorus and the gang shouts are classic, while the lightly picked, melodic break that builds to full-on thrash metal Armageddon is excellent. The song also stands out for the handful of fierce solos deftly packed into the middle. As a matter of fact, the soloing across the entire album is first-rate; that particular track just happens to excel in the lead guitar department.

That does not mean that the album's second half is somehow of a lesser quality. Rather, it is more an indication of the particularly superb songwriting on the standout cuts highlighted above, although with every spin of the disc new tracks demonstrate their star power, such as the unrelentingly savage speed metal of "Afterburner" and the gang-shout peppered "The Disease". Vocalist/guitarist David Sanchez sports a mid-to-high range, expertly controlled, vocal style that never becomes irksome. The guy also stretches when necessary ("The Root of Evil") and busts out the kind demonic scream on "To Hell" last heard from a young Tom Araya.

All told, "Burn" is a damn good, consistently written thrash album. My advice is to add it to your list of "Essential Thrash Albums of 2009", along with WARBRINGER's "Waking into Nightmares" and LAZARUS A.D.'s "The Onslaught".

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