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Music Review: Slik Helvetica – Hafnium

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This band has a way with names, starting with the band name itself.   Slik Helvetica just sounds cool – like font-loving, devil worshiping metal extremists. Take a few moments and look up helvetica and Helvetii and enjoy the merry research chase it takes you on, from typography to Switzerland

Then there's the title of the CD:  Hafnium.  The name is derived from element number seventy-two on the periodic table.  Singer-slash-guitarist Mikhall Myers (yes, either he's Austin Powers or a serial killer) explains:  "Hafnium … has some unique characteristics regarding molecular structure, occasional radioactivity and sorts of morphing states … It's discovery challenged … top scientists to start thinking in new directions about alternate universes  … life and death states and continually questioning 'what is time?'"

Cool.  So we've got an enigmatic name and a setup for metaphysical metal on metal, a grinding meditation on life and death and consciousness.  The title track delivers on that count.  It was begotten by Myers' loss of his father and is, without a doubt, the heart of the entire recording.  It begins with ominous bells, is full of old-school crunching riffs and lyrics that you want to shout out.

It's not extreme metal.  It's nostalgic, vintage metal and I loved every minute of it.  Granted Slik Helvetica will not make you re-think the heavy metal genre – but it's just so much fun to listen to.  In its best moments, Hafnium (the album, buy also the song) displays the sounds of the best of 80s metal:  Savatage, Skid Row, Queensryche and Dokken.  There are even currents of Rush. 

But, like it or not, it also veers into the cheesy side of glam-metal:  Warrant, Poison, Ugly Kid Joe, Motley Crue.  Tracks like "Money Tree" boast brainy lyrics like:  "Climb on top and shake it like a money tree."  What sense does that make?  According the band, they pride themselves on strong lyrical content – thus the "slik" in the name – but I don't know if I'd quite agree with that, save for "Hafnium" and "Reign".  And yet, the music is a blast to listen to; the melodies are energetic and unabashed.

It's not extreme metal.  It's nostalgic, vintage metal and I loved every minute of it.  Granted Slik Helvetica will not make you re-think the heavy metal genre – but it's just so much fun to listen to.

It's dominated by the guitars of Mikhall Myers, but he's got good support with Kjell Benner on bass and Mark Bennett on drums, both of whom he's apparently worked with before in a previous band by the name of Destroyer.  I have no recollection  of this band, even after trying to jog my memory by repeated Googling.   Benner has had experience with a seminal 80s band, Quiet Riot.  I'll let you decide if they fall on the cool or cheesy side of metal.

Myers produced Hafnium himself and he's interested in writing music he likes no matter what current trends may be.  You've got to respect that attitude.  The metal of Hafnium is polished and familiar.  Yeah, it doesn't offer anything really new and only one track has any kind of real depth or intelligence but it is just eleven tracks of pure fun.  Rock on.

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