Date: 30th April, 2018
Review By: Pete Mutant
Finally, I was getting to see Havok. It was years before when I first heard ‘Time Is Up’ and I was hooked since. Their latest effort ‘Conformicide’ cemented my adoration for this band on record but I had not had the opportunity until now to see them. Last year they were playing in Edinburgh when Scotland had to deal with a major festival clash between the new Heavy Scotland festival and Lords Of The Land. I was at Lords Of The Land yet Havok were in Edinburgh. It was a bit of a shame but I knew that I would get to see them one of these days…
They were playing at the Cathouse this night bringing with them a solid package mixing various styles of thrash in Aussie band Harlott and the more melodic variety from Darkest Hour. To mix things up a little -and very much to my benefit- they brought fellow Colorado based Cephalic Carnage who were another band that I was highly anticipating. They headlined last time they were round these parts but they were a little down the pecking order for this one. I would have put them up near the headline spot but it wasn’t up to me, nevertheless it was going to be a grand night of metal.
First up we had the Melbourne thrash fiends in Harlott [3.5/5] who were in Scotland for the first time. They were on the campaign trail to support last year’s ‘Extinction’ and they weren’t going to waste any time not promoting it. They opened with the title track of ‘Extinction’ and my immediate thought was “Exodus much?”. They had a Bay Area brand of thrash that packed in fair bits of groove. The band were very much giving it a go and they seemed to really be enjoying themselves as they moved into ‘Denaturalise’ which had some potent riffery, providing a massive backing structure whilst the solo ripped away.
Main man Andy Hudson was keeping the rhythm tight as he delivered his vocal tirade. Lead guitarist Jake Webber was throwing all the necessary notes around and drummer Tim Joyce was battering away, keeping the pace at a rapid speed. The main source of entertainment was bassist Tom Richards who was putting in a magnificent display. He was a natural who used his fingers to pluck each sting with some incredible dexterity. They went back to their second EP for the title track ‘None’ before they ended their set with another newbie in ’The Penitent’ which brought a moody tone in before morphing and evolving into some nice harmonies between the guitarists. They were pretty fun and served as a great start to the show.
Next up we had Cephalic Carnage [4.5/5] who for some reason, unbeknownst to me, had second spot on the billing this night. I guess it was beneficial not having to wait any longer to see them but I would have said they would deserve a spot near the top. They walked on and the devastatingly heavy shenanigans began with ‘Endless Cycle Of Violence’ which brought all their grind influence into the foray. It was rapid and crushing with some shrieking pinched harmonics breaking up the music. Their backing track rang boos out after before they went into Persistent General Arousement Disorder and the madness continued. They had it all with quick switches, potent riffs, shrills and thrills and a ton of laughs.
Vocalist Leonard “Lenzig” Leal was asking the crowd to scrape enough weed together for a joint so that we could all party tonight. I don’t know how that ended but there was definitely some kind of party going on. Was a poignant request as the band went into ‘Kill For Weed’ which had some demonic vocals from our frontman Lenzig. The rest of the band were extremely proficient and made things look easy.
So much of it was tongue in cheek with bassist Nick Shendzielos pretending to play the reverse side of his bass mid way through the incredible ‘Lucid Interval’. This brought us to the last track of their extremely impressive yet far too short-lived set where the band in a split second donned some corpse paint masks (minus bassist Nick who was sporting a mighty fancy horse’s head). It was a pantomime of extreme metal and the band walked off having delivered a phenomenal performance. I just wish they had a fair bit longer but the night was moving forward and there was more metal to be had.
The penultimate band was Darkest Hour [3.5/5] who had not really come into my radar before as I’m not the biggest fan of melodic thrash. They began interestingly enough by playing Dr Dre’s ‘Next Episode’ and as the song finished with”smoke weed every day” a fair few voice joined in to sign off the intro and hail in the band. Darkest Hour kicked off with ‘Knife In The Safe Room’ the opening track from last year’s ‘Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora’ and it was a solid start. There was a plethora of force in this one which didn’t rely too heavily on their more melodic tendencies. The second and third track didn’t have as heavy an edge but the fans really seemed to be enjoying their set and there was a fair bit of movement on the go.
Things improved with ‘Doomsayer’ and ‘An Epitaph’ whilst one punter took it upon themselves to do a standing backflip in the centre of the crowd after ‘Those Who Survived’ ended so obviously they were pumped. I was a little less so as there was nothing extraordinary coming from the band but they had plenty of moments where their qualities shined through. I was most impressed with drummer Travis Orbin who was putting in a rather blasty display; vocalist John Henry could be pretty forceful when he wanted to as well. The lead parts were okay but I wasn’t overly impressed by it all. Darkest Hour did however surprise me with their cover of ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ which brought more quality from the vocals and drums.
The best moment of their set came when backflip boy attempted a corkscrew and collided in an aerial leg drop across some poor girl’s chest taking her out of the game. Luckily she was absolutely fine but poor backflip boy’s confidence was shattered after the screams of laughter slowly abated. Darkest Hour finished the set with ‘The Sadist Nation’ which kept the movement going until the last moment.
It was time to speed things up as the headliners Havok [4.0/5] were prepared to begin. Cephalic Carnage’s Nick Shendzielos was pulling double duties tonight and he had the honour of bringing us into ‘Hang ‘Em High’ where an instant pit was sparked. Reece Scruggs put in some blinding lead work in just as I expected he would as the song smashed on. We went back to ‘Time Is Up’ for ‘Prepare For Attack’ and my fanboyness was reaching its heights. It was smash after smash with a whole pile of riffs in between. The solos were note for note perfection and the drums from drummer Pete Webber were varied and clinically executed. Nick Shendzielos’ bass skills were on display again when putting a bit of slapstick in from time to time and making his efforts look effortless.
The set had a good mix of their best works as most was concentrated on ‘Time Is Up’ and ‘Conformicide’. ‘Covering Fire’ had a shed full of groove packed in with a seismic break of truly epic proportions and the crowd was wolfing it down. We went back to their 2012 EP for the title tack of ‘Point Of No Return’ and I’m sure Sanchez sang “the world turns black, I can’t stop smoking crack” which aren’t the lyrics (of course) but it could have just been my brain. Anyways, Reece Scruggs looked to be having the time of his life as he ripped into more leads with relentless proficiency and the band smashed on.
The music was blazing and by the eighth track ‘From The Cradle To The Grave’ we got our first crowdsurfer and they weren’t the last. Nick and Sanchez were having a go at catch the cymbal in between Webber’s striking and their riffing which just demonstrated further their fluency in the music; they didn’t have to concentrate. We got two tongue in cheek grind core songs before the crowd got their request in the final track of the night ’D.O.A’ which brought the evenings music to a triumphant end. It was a quality gig and I was not disappointed by some of this day in age’s shining examples. That’s two more ticked off my box and another two that weren’t near my box and not likely to get in anyways -albeit Harlott were pretty decent. Definitely worth the wait and another success story for the city and the gig scene.