Havochate - Cycle Of Pain
Greetings, European brethren. If ever you have scanned my ongoing body of work at the other ezine I've been writing for since 2003 and there remains any doubt as to my authenticity here, put those doubts from your pointy little heads; indeed, it is I, Ogg, beloved of Odin and despised of men. Possessor of the only opinion that matters, and trying like hell to solidify myself as America's Nastiest Export. Yea, it is I who dared laugh at Dragonforce and call them (affectionately) hair metal. It is I who sneered at Icycore and labelled Wetwired as unlistenable drivel. I have come to Metal Covenant to chew bubblegum and split skulls-and bretheren, I'm fresh out of bubblegum...
But enough of the friendly salutations and on to the task at hand. I'll not be making many enemies by lap-stroking one of my favorite bands, and Havochate happens to be one of them. This is, however, a worthy disc. I'm not sure how familiar the rest of the world might be with this band. Their debut release This Violent Earth had, I suspect, limited distribution and promotion worldwide outside of the internet. It was one of the first discs I reviewed for the other site, and my review was a gushing rager, as I recall, so much so that it was published in first position at the previous label's (Root of All Evil Records) website-a link to that review is included. Since then, Havochate vocalist John Malleck has been replaced by Tim Bouchee, and former Testament bassist Greg Christian has become a fulltime member of the band. This Violent Earth also had a production/guest guitar hand from death metal legend James Murphy (Death/Obituary), and Murphy's absence on the second disc is evident.
Whereas This Violent Earth was an unbridled, hyper-aggressive moshfest, Cycle of Pain is more introspective, more restrained and dare I say more melodic? Havochate's arrival was joyfully embraced and enthusiastically lauded, bringing mutterings of a "new wave of American thrash" (which is yet to materialize). They evoked a deep emotional response from the grizzled old warriors like myself who still yearn wistfully for the bygone age of San Fransico Bay-area thrash typified by Testament, Exodus, Vio-Lence, Forbidden and Defiance, and memories of the former dominance of "The Big Three" (Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax) were the topic of discussion in the wake of such a refreshingly oldschool approach to this style of music. ("Refreshingly oldschool" is one hell of an oxymoron, isn't it?)The changes to the sound of the band becomes evident from the first trackof Cycle of Pain, and that condition is directlt tied to the change in frontmen. Malleck's style had a controlled ferocity remminescent of Chuck Billy, whereas Bouchee has a more traditional, sometimes even operatic style - Messiah Marcolin meets Bob Ellsworth meets Warrell Dane. I laothe making too many comparisons to other bands in review-it is my firm belief that each work should be judged on it's own merits as if I had never heard another metal disc-but comparisons are ineveitable. If nothing else, this second effort reminds me of early Sanctuary, the mid nineties Seattle group that later spawned Nevermore, so froim the onset there are some rather obvious differences between the two discs.
I mentioned that the album may have suffered from lack
of James Murphy, but rather than call it suffering and invoking the
words "sophomore curse", I will accept Cycle of Pain as a
distinctly different work and still worthy of attention. There is a
sense, lyrically, that Cycle of Pain is a much more personal effort
than This Violent Earth -some inner demons are being exorcised with
this disc, it is more emotional and heartfelt than its predecessor.
Judging just by the liner notes, I'd guess that the personal demons
might belong to Bouchee, but I won't say this for certain.
I like it. I'm probably still more fond of the first disc,
but this one signals what I hope is a solid return to the oldschool
sensibilities of American thrash. This is a band that deserves, nay
demands respect, and I hope they get it.