Album Review: HAVOK Unnatural Selection
Thrash metal is supposed to be full of politically-charged lyrics, ridiculous guitar work that requires the listener to pay attention at all times, guitar solos out the ass, and most of all everyone having a damn good time. As time went on in the 2000's, plenty of thrash bands have come and gone with very few left in the limelight of the metal universe. Just in case you weren't sure if Havok belonged there or not, Unnatural Selection makes damn sure you answer that with a resounding "yes."
Unnatural Selection keeps in stride with Havok's affinity to get you headbanging from start to finish without even having to think about it. Sure, their 2011 release Time Is Up was incredibly well received and maybe even thought to be difficult to top, but Unnatural Selection does it with ease and then some. Time Is Up stuck a little more to the retro-thrash movement than it did in venturing out into all types of insanity, and that's where the difference lies between the two albums; Unnatural Selection really goes nuts with the riffs and sounds, bringing it into 2013 with a little something extra on top of the instantly identifiable "thrash" sound.
Songs that come to mind off the record – in terms of getting stuck in my head near constantly – are pure fucking thrasher "Is It True?" and mid-tempo'ed, octave-switching chugger "Chasing the Edge." Even the Black Sabbath-esque "Children of the Grave" is one for the books. The bottom line for Unnatural Selection's wide variety of songs is that there's a lot going on in terms of writing, but it's never out of place or a gimmick to keep you listening. Everything going on here is genuine, flows well, and grabs you in a different way than the previous song. The music seems to get progressively slower as the album goes on, but then ends with the lightning-speed title track just to kick your ass right out the door. How's that for a closer?
The lyrical content is what really gets me about this record most of all. From politically-charged jams like "I Am the State" and "Give Me Liberty… Or Give Me Death," to calling portions of society out on "Is It True" and "Waste of Life," it's a pretty focused effort lyrically. It's just so nice to hear lyrics that aren't a complete and total abomination and actually took some thought to write. But that's the whole record; well-thought out and really put together down to the last detail. Unnatural Selection is easily a contender for one of the best albums of this year because there are simply no flaws in the design.
8 / 10