Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Havok Live Report

Back to the Underworld again after a few days break for a gig of mostly thrash and one death metal band. I've seen Havok before in this very venue and I know you're guaranteed a rollicking great time with these guys. We had three cool support bands to get through first before the main course. First up were American neo-classical thrashers Exmortus whom I've become quite a big fan of the last year or two. These guys shred like a house on fire! I actually missed the first 10 minutes of their allotted 30 minutes due to the massive crowd for the night and me being a bit slow to queue.

I'd actually been looking forward to seeing these guys and they didn't disappoint in the 20 minutes that I did see. The riffs are mind blowingly fast and the solos are basically classical music notes played on guitars at a million miles an hour. It can get slightly boring if you're not a fan I can admit, but to me this was really fun to listen. I wanted to hear the amazing song Slave to the Sword but they never played it or if they did, it was in the 10 minutes I missed. I wish I'd caught their whole set but I was happy to catch a little at least. These guys are masters of the guitar!

Next up were French tech death merchants Gorod. Again I've seen the band on this very stage. They stood out from the others for having more brutal sections and still with plenty of tech chops and grooves. Some of the subtleties of the band is lost in the live arena and they can come off sounding one dimensional a bit but still they were impossibly tight. Plus the bassist is a complete loon. He plays bass like he's making love to his instrument! Slithering, pulling faces, banging away, the whole works, Quite a sight to be hold. Some nice double bass blasting by the drummer too.

Next up were LA thrashers Warbringer. I had actually listened to their latest opus a few days ago and whilst I liked it I wasn't overly bowled over either. However, live, they completely bowled me and the whole God damn place over! They were an absolute riot. Massive grooves followed by pure raging thrash and an insane vocalist. Though he maybe yelling, his vocals are crystal clear and you can still understand a fair bit of it which I always enjoy more if the vocals are less harsh. The thrash rage was strong with these guys and the floor was a sea of bodies and flailing limbs. Great stuff really and I was surprised as I didn't think I was a huge Warbringer fan. So much so that I listened to the new album again today and it sounded so much better having witnessed them live the previous night.

Finally at 10pm dead the Coloradians took their positions and prepared to lay waste. They are a slightly different type of thrash when compared to Warbringer who are much more straightforward and in your face. Not that Havok aren't in your face but their songs are often longer and more intricate with more blistering lead work. The vocals are also more raspy and less understandable, well live at least anyway.

I love the manic, groovy riffs that induce mass headbanging and floor action. Then you get that juxtaposed by relentless battery in the rapid fire sections. Excellent indeed!  I enjoyed their new songs a lot. They have catchier riffs that bounce a long nicely allowing the songs to breathe more. In fact the band has matured very nicely from a crazy type of thrash to a well oiled machine with slick grooves and a mechanised style of riff.

Slowly becoming a thinking man's thrash metal if you will, whilst bands like Warbringer are more meat and potatoes thrash. After just over an hour's worth of set time the Havok lads said their thank you's and left to the roars of the huge crowd. I haven't seen the Underworld this full for a good while that's for sure. It seems thrash is still king in London! Great and enjoyable night overall with guitars shredded to the max by all concerned.

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