Formed in 2006, US band Havenside has become an invigorating excitement for ears but never quite made that big step into the strongest spotlight. Forging a ferocious mix of metal and hardcore, the band certainly across their previous three albums has sculpted persistently pleasing results from within their continuing rich potential but without lighting the major fires they suggest they are capable of. Their fourth album Living Our Darkest Days is in also a little guilty of not truly exploiting the promise and undeniable quality of the band but it certainly makes a strong fist of its attempt. The twelve track slab of sonic savagery and antagonistic vitality seizes ears and imagination from its first ravenous minute never relinquishing its grip until the final seconds. There are a few ‘ailments’ you can lay against the otherwise impressive encounter but the Sacramento has still crafted their finest moment yet to worry those higher echelons of recognition.
Formed in 2006 by vocalist Brandon Wells, Havenside despite going through a few line-up changes has earned a fine reputation for their ferocious sound and stage presence, not forgetting their well-received albums. Released via Innerstrength Records, Living Our Darkest Days is the Californian quintet’s fourth full-length fury, an intensive bruising to fire up appetites and emotions. The album takes little time to ravage ears as opener Indisputable from a distant squall launches a violent tirade upon the senses; riffs and rhythms aligned to lethally rapacious vocal spite producing an immediate savagery. The rigid antagonistic riffery of Casey Mann and Nik Santos churns up and chews on synapses with their heavily laden vitriol whilst the bass of Jordon Morch snarls with bestial rage alongside. It is a towering mix under the drive of the crippling rhythms of drummer Jaramia Bond, a thrust given a rabid head by the raw tones of Wells. Grooves threaten to break free from the tempest at times, teasing with their presence but never given full rein by the weight of the song. It is an intriguing and satisfying start which suggests more than it delivers but all the same grabs attention and enjoyment.
Featuring Rob McCarthy (ex-Lionheart), The Broken storms in next, a winding groove given licence to twist around the imagination as the rhythms punch a frame around their lure. With Wells unleashing a malicious combativeness, the track plunders the senses with invention and voraciousness like an agitated leviathan. It is a spiteful yet magnetic provocateur raising the stakes for the passions to embrace. Its tempestuous qualities and strength is soon matched by the following Despised and then left behind by the excellent Things Will Never Change. The first of the two, like its predecessor, casts grooves and hooks within an intense cyclone of aggression and though the song does not quite have the bait to spark the same depth of reactions as the first pair, it has plenty to keep a hunger brewing. By this point a surface similarity coats the songs which does not deter or disappoint but does suggest some of the reason that the album does not explode in the passions as strongly as it should. The second of these two tracks is the exception and shows what is possible. Grazing and brawling with the ears from its first breath, the song instantly has something about it which is different and bold, drawing in the imagination ready for the excellent twist of clean backing vocals. Flinging sinews and malevolent attitude lyrically and musically around, the track has a swagger and swerving flow to its body which ripples and enthrals, the track moving away from the more metalcore premise of other tracks. It is a glorious incitement and one easy to hope the band explore further.
Both the intimidating Unite & Conquer and the almost danceable, almost, Standing Your Ground Pt. 2 prey on the listener next, both accomplished and severe examinations which pale against the previous song but stand tall alone, before the first single from the album stomps forward. Stronger Everyday is a fiery and formidable encounter which lurches over and traps attention with its keen and resourceful animosity, providing another worthwhile wounding for the senses.
The outstanding pair of King By Destruction and Supplicator soon put the last song in a shadow with their adventure and intensity. The first with a pack like stalking from its rhythms and riffs, nags and provokes with purposeful intent but it is the small melodically bred sonic veining and assisting clean vocals which lift the track from the rest, that and the increasing dramatic imagination and diversity which ignites the latter part of the song. Its successor is a swift explosion of bad blood, an excellent unpredictable tirade focusing on the more hardcore heart of the band. Like the last, it further suggests the expansive elements of the songwriting and sound within Havenside, something still not allowed enough freedom for us.
The final trio of songs ensure the release ends on a strong footing if slightly underwhelming compared to previous songs. Composure rants and riles against the listener musically and lyrical in fine style with flashes of intrigue lighting up its war whilst Curse, which sees a guest appearance from Howie Favichia of Lifeforms, from a fascinating melodic intro crafts a brutality which scavenges emotions. Again there are great glimpses of emprise to the engagement though never anything truly pushed to its limits. Final song Refuse To Sink brings Living Our Darkest Days to an uncompromising and pleasing end if again without realising or exploring the full promise of its invention.
The track sums up the album, a song which impresses and crafts some strikingly imaginative moments but seems afraid to unleash the creative beast inside. Living Our Darkest Days is a thoroughly engaging proposition all the same, Havenside at its best but still with some potential to unleash…that something to eagerly wait for.
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