Havok - Burt's Tiki Lounge, Salt Lake City UT, 13/09/2013

Thrashing SLC.

The name 'Burt's Tiki Lounge' evokes an image of a rather large man smoking a cigar, surrounded by hula dancers, however, nothing could be further from the truth. The small room, the low ceilings plastered with decaying band fliers of shows long past, and the subtle, sickly sweet odor of urine wafting from the mens room in back, is just the environment where metal's red-headed stepchild, thrash, flourishes. Enter Denver thrashers Havok, touring behind their third release Unnatural Selection.

After professionally navigating the sonic shortcomings of such a small venue (no mics on the guitar cabs – stage volume only) the band wasted little time before delivering it's high quality, straight-up thrash to a metal hungry Salt Lake City crowd, opening with the urgent Covering Fire from their Times Up album during which a few 'trial' pits formed and dissolved as if to say, 'sorry, but we aren't quite ready yet.' but, once Havok launches into Point Of No Return, the crowd finds their 'mosh' legs and starts destroying each other in violent celebration.

When you go to see a live show and the guitarist breaks a string, what happens in most cases is a roadie will magically materialize at the side of the stage holding a spare gig-stick to exchange for the one with the bum string. Not the case here, when Reece Scruggs snapped a string two songs into the set, he was forced to stop playing completely, walk across the stage, grab the spare, and plug himself back in to continue rocking. I'm not saying that as a negative; they handled any and every glitch like pros. What I am saying is – buy their shit! You know? So they can afford some of the simple luxuries that larger bands might take for granted, like a roadie, to help make touring just a little more pleasant for them.

The next two songs performed were the thematically tethered Liberty Or Death and I Am The State, containing timely messages of the continued erosion of personal freedom that is currently underway in this country and around the rest of the world. David Sanchez's venomous, jagged shrieks serve to add hateful intensity to the warning he's delivering in those tunes. He also deserves a nod for the obvious homage to Slayer and Tom Araya by doing a very convincing 'Angel Of Death' scream during D.O.A. off the Times Up album..

The band is musically tight and thrashed relentlessly through the entire set, occasionally broken up with Dave Sanchez's good-natured crowd interaction.

'You know that guy in the pit? You know, the one doing all that karate shit... Fuck him!' Says Sanchez right before launching into Times Up.The ultimate spirit of thrash is to have a good time, and judging from the hot, sweaty mess that occupied the club floor, a good time was had by all.