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Conformicide

United States Country of Origin: United States

1. F.P.C.
2. Hang 'Em High
3. Dogmaniacal
5. Ingsoc
6. Masterplan
7. Peace Is In Pieces
8. Claiming Certainty
9. Wake Up
10. Circling The Drain
11. String Break
12. Slaughtered


Review by Greg on January 2, 2024.

I was expecting a great album with Havok's latest effort, Conformicide, even just reading the first reviewers drooling over the alleged best album of 2017. Not that I love them, they have to follow too many others in the race to satisfy my personal tastes, but I can recognize their potential on, to say, Time Is Up. After a quick look at the song titles and their length, it was clear they were aiming for a fourth album that could be something more than your average revival thrash record. They never focused on politics this much before, and the 1984-inspired fifth track, titled 'Ingsoc', only accentuated the overall aura of 'there's someone controlling our lives without our knowledge'. In retrospect, this last aspect could have been enough to make me avoid this, but I gave it a chance anyways.

I have to say the cover art is very coherent with the actual content of the album: it may be a pretty intriguing concept to some, but not adequately developed. This leads to the well-known main problem of Conformicide: the lyrics. If the background idea somehow attracted you, the superficiality which it's treated with is appalling, as pointed out by every reviewer on here. At times it borders on ridiculous, like on 'Wake Up' or on the opener 'F.P.C.' (seriously?), or in the sampled intro to 'Intention to Deceive'; but, as a Catholic myself, I can't help but saying that also anti-religious songs on here are pretty confusing. For instance, take a look at these lines, taken from 'Dogmaniacal' (what's wrong with these titles?):

It doesn't matter to you
That he's a power-tripping maniac
'Cause he's got you convinced
People of other faiths should be attacked

God wants you to obliterate your neighbor
If he does not think like you
Take a look at any holy book
And it's crystal clear it's true


Weren't we talking about Catholicism? I've never heard of the Bible commanding to attack people who follow other religions... perhaps you are messing up creeds a bit (as suggested also by 'Claiming Certainty', where Allah replaces God in the last chorus). I've had definitely more fun reading Sarcófago lyrics. However, the score of this review wouldn't be so low if it was the only problem. Insufficient lyrics do not prevent from making good music, otherwise those bands which doesn't have English as their native language would not deserve to be listened, right? Well... in this case the two things go arm in arm, since Conformicide is a long, burdensome album which finds itself struggling continuously to capture the listener's interest. Technically speaking, it's an instrumentally excellent effort: take the impressive basslines (courtesy of new member Nick Schendzielos) on the opener and the final track, or the central blast-beat outburst on 'Intention to Deceive', everything it's perfectly executed, but ultimately it ends up being way more boring than it should be. Thus, nearly anything managed to stick inside my head; and I tried, believe me, since at first I thought it was my fault for not getting it, probably because of my addiction to high-speed metal. Then negative reviews started to spill over this site, and I started feeling less alone.

The series of things not working here includes also the vocals by David Sanchez, always based upon his trademark shrieks, nevertheless resulting like a foreign body if laid upon this soundtrack. Simply, he isn't the right man to carry (or better, to save) this album, and his monotony ends up increasing the total weight upon the listener, which will get tired in a matter of a couple of songs (you can choose which ones you want). Say what you want about the so-hated Evile, but Matt Drake would have suited definitely better most of the music. I feel the only song I can have liked is 'Hang 'em High', even just for that 'the enemy is not coming from overseas' pre-chorus part, but a better refrain should have followed it, and I've never felt urged to listen to it again after all this time. Nevertheless 'Masterplan' and mostly 'Circling the Drain' are enjoyable too, and 'Claiming Certainty' is at least shorter than 4 minutes – the only lucky enough song, censoring that Pantera cover at the end.

The new Rust in Peace? I admit I never really loved Megadeth, but I guess everyone with a brain can find this comparison completely unsubstantiated (except for that Mustaine imitation in the verse of 'Circling the Drain', but that's it), and it sets the expectations about Conformicide even higher, only to mercilessly crush them. Yes, Havok have grown up, yet becoming adults almost incapable of having fun, as this album contains some of the coldest, most lifeless thrash you'll find these days. Well, albeit the course of time showed that there are many other valid bands in the scene, I hope they will consider the idea of making a step back and discard this poor attempt at creating something they are clearly not capable of. See ya next time, guys.

Rating: 3.2 out of 10

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