It doesn’t take a whole lot to grow out your hair, cop some Bolt Thrower licks and call yourself a metal band, but you really have to live it if you want to shred like a thunder god. If Denver’s Havok’s brutal blend of speed- and thrash-metal wasn’t enough to convince you that the foursome knows its way around the genre, singer-bassist Dave Sanchez proved his mettle with The A.V. Club by chatting about some of the genre’s most overlooked acts. Bone up on the unsung heroes of the genre before you head out to Moe’s Original BBQ Saturday, March 25 as the band celebrates the release of its sophomore album, Time Is Up.
Dave Sanchez: It’s the original bass player of Suicidal Tendencies. After getting kicked out of ST, he went and started his own band. They sound like Suicidal, but even better. It basically sounds like all the best Suicidal songs. There’s no bad songs. It’s kind of the more metal Suicidal stuff. There are good guitar parts and double bass-drum stuff. I think that’s the most underrated band that I’ve ever heard.
The A.V. Club: Why do you think it’s so unknown? With the Suicidal Tendencies connection, you’d think more people would know about it.
DS: I’m not sure. I don’t know too much about their history, but they’re one of my favorite bands, and nobody seems to know about them. They don’t exist anymore—that’s probably part of the reason nobody knows who they are. Every once in a while, I’ll meet somebody who knows who Uncle Slam is, but not very often.
DS: I’d say they get a lot of love from people who are very familiar with them, but just for Joe Shmoe metal-head guy, they have no idea of who they are or what they sound like. Even if they heard it, they may not appreciate it. It’s a little bit weird. It’s not necessarily for everybody, but the music is genius. I think it’s one of those things that if you heard it on the radio, you’d be like, “Whoa. What the fuck is this?” If you sit down and pay attention to it and actually pay attention to what’s going on in the music, it’s fucking great. The music is so good. The music is so complex, but it just flows. I think Death is one of the coolest bands ever.
AVC: Death’s been enjoying a bit of a resurgence in the past couple years, though.
DS: I have noticed that, too, in recent years. I know that Symbolic got remastered and rereleased and The Sound Of Perseverance just got remastered and re-released. That probably helps reiterate it to younger fans.
DS: That band’s singer sounds like Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, on crack. He’s got crazy-high vocals. That dude can singer higher, I think, higher than anyone I can think of. He’s got a killer vibrato and good control. Then their guitar player, bass player, and drummer are all super sick, too. Musicianship-wise, it’s like Dream Theater, if Dream Theater played everything three times as fast.
AVC: Do you think musicianship gets overlooked by some metal fans?
DS: It does sometimes get overlooked. There’s a fine line between being technical and being catchy. I think sometimes bands let the technicality override the catchiness and the memorability of the song.