Time Is Up
posted on 2/2011 By:
As the so-called “thrash revival” begins to recede over the horizon, we can start to notice the cream bands of the crop rising to the top. One such act is Denver’s Havok, who with 2009’s Burn declared themselves as one of the more naturally able acts of the new wave. Their greatest virtue is that, like their other standout peers, their only intention is to THRASH!!! with all of their might, leaving the gimmicks to the also-rans. Sophomore effort Time Is Up might not be quite the collection of songs that the debut was, but it further solidifies the band as one with the cojones to stick around after this brief retro-obsession is long forgotten.
For the uninitiated, Havok’s brand of thrash is deeply rooted in the Bay Area, particularly Zetro-era Exodus. From the band’s punchy riffs and edge-of-your-seat drive to the ‘tude-infused vocals and could-just-as-easily-be-Tom-Hunting drumming, nearly every aspect of Time Is Up feels directly transplanted from S.F. to Colorado. Small variations show up in the form of a melodic chorus (“Fatal Intervention”), a touch of Lamb of God influence (“D.O.A.”), and even some near-singing (“Killing Tendencies”). This approach is then glued together by the band’s not-so-secret weapon, lead guitarist Reece Scruggs, whose accomplished skills are on open display all across Time Is Up. In the 80s and early 90s, thrash provided some of the greatest lead guitar work ever laid to tape, and Scruggs’ wild and flamboyant style would have fit right in.
While Time Is Up thrashes with the best of them, it is not without its share of (minor) issues. There are times when riffs, particularly in the verses, appear cookie-cutter and are only saved by the band’s collective charisma. In addition, the album shows next-to-zero dynamics over its 42 minutes. (Tangent/rant: really, whatever happened to a good thrash epic or ballad? Are Vektor the only ones who get that thrash needs dynamics? Not to mention, I can only imagine how wonderful Scruggs’ soloing would stretch out over such a track. End tangent/rant.) This problem is made worse by a few late album tracks – “The Cleric” and “Out of My Way” specifically – that bore in comparison to the early-album burners.
In truth, these few issues never even approach critical status, and the album overcomes the late-album missteps with a rippin’ closer in the title track and an ideal modern thrash production. Plus, many will keep coming back to this album solely for the fantastic soloing. Simply put, Time Is Up isn’t going to replace your cherished copies of Bonded by Blood or Fabulous Disaster, but it also isn’t trying to. Havok’s purest intention is to thrash your face into a circle-pitted-pulp, and more often than not they’re wildly successful.
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