Superlatives are usually used to describe new albums. Great. Greater. Greatest. Thrash metal is full of superlative albums. From the golden gods in Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, and Anthrax to the new gods in Municipal Waste, Warbringer, Toxic Holocaust, and Lost Society, the battlejacket of thrash metal continues to rage loud and louder. The New Wave of thrash metal has had its moments, too. Warbringer awaited hell on 2013’s IV: Empires Collapse. Toxic Holocaust bonded blood on 2005’s Hell on Earth. And Municipal Waste annihilated principles on 2003’s Waste ‘Em All. Based on a decade’s worth of ruling hard in high tops, it would seem thrash metal’s younger generation is playing for keeps. But there’s always a superlative. A beacon among beacons. The next level up kind of thing. Well, thrashers, moshers, and circle pit maniacs the greatest of the great has arrived in Havok’s new full-length, Conformicide, their first for Century Media Records.
In the shop for almost three years, Havok’s Conformicide is undoubtedly their Master of Puppets or Rust in Peace moment. True, the Denver-based rippers have bled out guts, brains, and cash on previous albums Unnatural Selection (2013), Time is Up (2011), and Burn (2009), but none of them compare to ear-destroying, mind-flaying Conformicide. “Conformicide is faster and way angrier than Unnatural Selection,” says vocalist/guitarist/founding member David Sanchez. “On this album, the music is very layered and dynamic and the lyrics say a lot about the current state of the world.”
Faster, angrier, and burlier, Conformicide benefited significantly from more collaborative writing sessions, where guitarist Reece Scruggs, drummer Pete Webber, and newcomer bassist Nick Schendzielos (Job for a Cowboy, Cephalic Carnage) were instrumental in pushing Sanchez’s violent yet quick-witted songs over the proverbial edge. The result is a set of tunes that fume, spit, and storm high-end, pit-slaying thrash. “To us, a song is a collection of music that will get stuck in your head,” Sanchez says. “Where every musician gets to shine, and dynamics are utilized to add peaks and valleys to the music—to take the listener on a musical roller coaster ride. After that musical foundation is there, we like to throw meaningful, thought-provoking lyrics on the top of the riff mountain and that’s where the songwriting process usually starts… With the almighty riff—the lifeblood of a good metal song. We slap a couple riffs together, then put drums and bass to it, then begin experimenting with guitar harmonies and different lines that the second guitar can play. Vocal rhythms and melodies are usually the last things to be solidified.”