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.