Released: 2005, Indecent Media
HavocHate have been on my mental list of bands to check out since “THIS VIOLENT EARTH” was released by Root of All Evil two years ago. Being informed the band was like early Machine Head or mid-era Testament had me interested immediately, especially the Testament reference seeing as they are my favourite band. Still though, even with that kind comparison I never got around to checking out the band’s debut album… why? I honestly have no clue. I guess it’s just that age old problem of too much music to check out and sometimes things get lost in the shuffle. It definitely wasn’t a question of not hearing about the band, I heard about them somewhat often and took notice when the band had a small feature in Metal Maniacs. Then I can’t forget that drummer Jon Dette (who had a rather small stint with Testament) joined the band for a short time with Ron Lipniki (ex-Hades) eventually taking over for him to record the new CYCLE OF PAIN album before leaving, not to mention Greg Christian, from the classic Testament line-up, currently taking up bass duties. All of this leaves me rather stumped as to why I haven’t even bothered to download an mp3…
This February saw the release of HavocHate’s second album, CYCLE OF PAIN. This new album is almost exactly as I had expected HavocHate to sound from what I had initially been told two years ago. This is very much like mid-90’s heavy, groovey, semi-thrash metal. CYCLE OF PAIN contains obvious nods to bands like Machine Head and post-Skolnick Testament with some different ideas and a bit more melodic touch. I would even argue that there are some very rocking moments not unlike Black Label Society; I mainly think of BLS in reference to some of the clean vocals which sound reminiscent of when Zakk Wylde attempts to sound like Ozzy. Not to imply this is a bad thing, because the clean vocals are done quite well and are more than adequate. Musically the band are heavy on the chunky grooving riffs using some definite nods to thrash metal and at times maybe even death metal. Vocally Tim Bouchee is quick to jump around, using a deep, guttural, almost, death metal vocal one moment, to a more intelligible shout, to clean vocals which, along with the bands top quality riffs, helps keep the band from a lot of the monotony that many bands of this ilk face.
CYCLE OF PAIN starts off with it’s title track, the drums and guitars working together to create a stop/start rhythm that is definitely fit for death metal. Quickly, the song moves into a more straight groove oriented rhythm using consant double bass. The verses are used to create tension for the open chorus; winding things up for the exploding chorus that uses Tim’s wailing clean vocals very well. “Tentacle” starts off thrashing before transitioning into a grooving stop/start riff based on the thrashing intro. The song moves into the pre-chorus with heavy use of pinch harmonics before the slow, building chorus develops. The slow stop/start, moshing riff at the end turned out to be my favourite section of the song with its tension creating a release that invites one to bang their heads. In “Fiction” we see a bit more of the rocking side of the band. The song is based around the soft/heavy dynamic, with a soft chorus using a soft guitar melody with a heavy bass/drum groove just beneath the surface.
The beginning drum/guitar interplay of “Still Alive” gets me every time. The riff is rather simple but the drums work to overcomplicate the music, surprisingly not to its detriment but to great effect. The song’s tempo stays pretty high until 1:53 when the heavy breakdown riff comes into play. Nice and bouncy, perfect for banging your head. “Wicked” is my favourite song on the album. The song is based around a lot of stop/start riffing, with smooth, clean vocal lines set overtop. The section before the chorus with it’s vocal/guitar sync-up works extremely well (most times I hear something like this it fails horribly). The key to the song for me is way Tim screams “cause I am wicked!” in the chorus. The thrashing solo section does well to offset the rest of the song’s stop/start riffing.
Caustic, yet melodic, riffing runs through “Speak No More”. The semi-melodic riffs almost remind one of Gothenburg styled bands, though they aren’t overused or overly melodic, so as not to distract from the overall feel of the song. “Buried in Lies” reminds me of the mid-paced bruisers that Testament have been dishing out since their LOW album. Not that this is a pale imitation, just the overall feel and verse riff make me think “Sewn Shut Eyes” or “Legions (in Hiding)”. The vocals really take over for the chorus; giving the song a major hook and drawing one back time and time again.
CYCLE OF PAIN works well in its two main areas, thrashing and grooving. Heavy riffing dominates accompanied by strong vocals that work well to enhance the songs. HavocHate are definitely on the right track and have released a killer album worthy of being held up as a prime example of damn fine heavy metal.