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Havok has been, if not the best, among the better representatives of the newest generation of filthy thrashers states side. They bring a level of energy and mechanized precision that is just a cut above the average Slayer and Sepultura worshipper, yet they make no secret about where they draw their influences from. “Point Of No Return” seems less a promotional effort for a future album, nor a means to tide their fans over in the aftermath of their recent glory fest that was “Time Is Up”, and more a not so subtle nod to the founding fathers out of California and South America that put embryonic death/thrash on the map.
The two most interesting offerings on this little EP turn out to be the two covers, both of which are well known and often imitated songs that were heavily influential in the early 90s death metal scene. They opt for something a bit short of the guttural, toneless mayhem typically associated with said style, and lay somewhere within the more primal, high pitched madness that typified the Teutonic bands that co-existed with Sepultura and Slayer during the mid to late 80s. But more interesting is the sheer exaggeration of violent speed with a digitally precise execution, lacking the slightly off chaos of the originals, yet replacing them with something almost as dangerous. Particularly when the guitar solos chime in, the sheer level of discipline to temper the obligatory fury is, if nothing else, noteworthy.
Oddly enough, the two new original songs are a bit less dangerous in their delivery, showcasing a slight helping of New York influences alongside the tonally dissonant tendencies of the band’s Slayer roots. “Point Of No Return” all but comes off like a formulaic nod to Overkill and Anthrax (particularly when considering the raunchy as hell bass sound and gang shouting style) with just a slight helping of Slayer’s chromatic tonal tendencies chiming in from time to time. “Cradle To The Grave” comes off in a similarly formulaic and straight-lined package, with maybe a bit more of an Exodus tendency to the guitar work, but still heavily informed by the groovier New York sound.
Thrashers of the world who cannot get enough of the old school and can tolerate it in a younger band will have no problem getting into this, though it is likely that with the release of Havok’s 3rd full length album that this offering may become obsolete, save the two cover songs. Compulsive shoppers will likely not be able to help themselves, and this is one of those cases where it isn’t really necessary to talk them out of it. Much like Jell-O, there’s always room for thrash provided that it’s presented in a nasty, skull and spine fracturing manner and this Colorado outfit has yet to come up short in this department.