• 9/10
    HAVOK - V - 9/10


Label: Century Media Records
Release date: May 1, 2020

User Review
9.5/10 (1 vote)

Remember mosh pits? Bodies slamming on bodies, sweat flying, hundreds of souls occupying a shared space? Havok do on the aptly titles fifth album V. In a year of isolation, mandated or self-imposed, there’s a greater need than ever for music that evokes feeling. The songs on V trigger visceral, deep feelings whether one is in the center of a moshpit maelstrom or seated on a comfy couch wearing expensive headphones.

First cut “Post-Truth Era” is a gut punch, dragging the listener into the virtual pit with crunching hooks and trenchant lyrics. Havok have made huge strides in lyrical proficiency since their 2009 debut BurnV‘s lyrics crackle with a level of insight and social commentary akin to the best of Megadeth’s catalog. Follow-up “Fear Campaign” is a showcase for new bassist Brandon Bruce, who adds a touch of breakneck groove underpinning yet another slammer. “Betrayed By Technology” uses dead stops in the begging, a clever acoustical trick to set up theme of distrust.

“Ritual of the Mind” alters the pace with a downshift, a slow gallop that breaks with the thrashy cadence of the first three songs. Featuring a spiraling guitar solo, the track has a sludgier, heavy feel than much of the album. “Interface With the Infinite” moves at much the same speed before breaking completely with “Dab Tsog”, an odd, short instrumental. “Dab Tsog” might be more about setting a mood than conveying an idea, but following it with “Phantom Force”, an all-out Thrash assault, is a masterstroke.

The dissonance provided by the slower middle passage of the album sets up the speedier final third well. The chorus of “Cosmetic Surgery” is one of the catchiest on V, framed expertly by Bruce’s bass pyrotechnics. “Panpsychism”–“the doctrine or belief that everything material, however small, has an element of individual consciousness”–has both an interesting concept and musical structure in a track that is reminiscent of mid-period Voivod.

At less than three minutes in length, “Merchants of Death” contains several thrilling guitar breaks and features alternating rhythms throughout.  Havok’s ability to switch up style and tempo mid-song is accentuated in this brash cut. Closer “Don’t Do It”, their longest recorded cut to-date at over eight minutes is a stark contrast with the speedy fury of “Merchants of Death”. “Don’t Do It” again brings the pace down with a slow-build opening and deliberate progression with some rare “clean” vocals from David Sanchez before removing all the stops in the final two minutes, winding up what is certainly Havok’s most ambitious–and ultimately most satisfying–album of their career.


  • Daniel Waters

    Daniel was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. Iron Maiden’s Piece Of Mind wasn’t the first Metal album he owned, but it was the one that lifted the lid off his soul when he received the record as a gift on his 15th birthday. He's been a Metal fan ever since. He's probably best known as the author of various Young Adult novels such as the Generation Dead series and the ghost story Break My Heart 1,000 Times, now also a major motion picture entitled I Still See You, starring Bella Thorne. Writing and music, especially Heavy Metal music, has always been inextricably linked in his mind and career. His first paid gig doing any type of writing was for Cemetery Dance, where he wrote a horror-themed music column called Dead Beats, and when he was writing the first Generation Dead novel he had a ritual where he started his writing day with a Metal playlist that kicked off with “Crushing Belial” by Shadows Fall.

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