Havok – Point Of No Return EP [9.5 out of 10]

By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal

Last year, Denver-based thrashers Havok impressed one and all with their sophomore album “Time Is Up” and the subsequent touring that followed it. It was great seeing them perform on stages across North America with the likes of Forbidden and Revocation, but they weren’t on that bill just to make up the numbers. They truly managed to hold their own alongside a veteran thrash band like Forbidden, and as a result, gained a new fan base for themselves. Based on the strength of the album and these tours, the band went briefly went into songwriting mode again, came up with two new tracks, and recorded two cover tunes in addition to the new songs to put the four together to create the “Point Of No Return” EP.

The 20-minute EP is a tasty little offering for old-school thrash fans, and if you are indeed a fan of the genre, this is much more than worth the money. On the original tunes, the band has pretty much continued from where they left off, with the music carrying an intensely strong vibe that’s reminiscent of the likes of Testament, Overkill and Death Angel. But the production here has made a huge difference to the band’s sound, and James Murphy must take credit for that. As compared to the tunes on “Time Is Up”, the sound on here is definitely heavier, thicker and fuller-sounding. Frontman David Sanchez is obviously the centerpiece of the music, as always, but this time bassist Jesse De Los Santos is very distinctly audible in the mix, and more than the music itself, I think this aspect gives it that Overkill kind of touch, reminding the listener of D.D. Verni’s thunderous bass sound. The Death Angel influence is more evident in the music on “Cradle To The Grave”, and any resemblance to Death Angel is always a good thing, at least for me.

With that said, I’m certainly not calling them an 80s thrash rip-off band by any means. I never have, and never will, because they are far from that. I just enjoy hearing the influence of some of my favorite bands, such as the ones I mentioned above, and that’s something I can relate to when I listen to Havok’s music. But it’s their exuberance and songwriting prowess that converts these influences into well-written songs, and that’s what makes them one of the outstanding bands in the modern thrash scene.

Besides these terrific new tracks, I also like the treatment they’ve given to the cover tunes, Sepultura’s “Arise” and Slayer’s “Postmortem/Raining Blood”. Given the kind of intensity the band has showcased both on their recorded music as well as live performances, I think the choice of covers is excellent, and the songs suit the band perfectly.

Overall, this is a flawless effort by Havok. Fans are in for a treat this year as the band prepares to present this material on stage and carry the momentum forward into their next full-length record.

Rating: 9.5/10
[Click here to order the album via Amazon]

Record Label: Candlelight
Release Date: May 22nd 2012

Track Listing:
1. Point Of No Return
2. Cradle To The Grave
3. Arise [Sepultura cover]
4. Postmortem/Raining Blood [Slayer cover]