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Slikk Wikked, Black Wind of Death (Self-Released, 2015)

There's much to say about Tampa, FL's Slikk Wikked, and their 14-minute debut EP, Black Wind of Death. Of course the band name—along with members such as "Zakk Thrash" and "Nasty Pat"—lends a sense of lighthearted fun to the material, which would typically rub me the wrong way, but I actually don't mind one bit in this case, 'cause the tunes deliver in full. (Plus, "Slikk Wikked" brings Slik Toxik to mind, and I can't hold that against anyone!)

While not a complete throwback, it's more or less blatantly obvious that they're drawing influence from the thrash scene's heyday (as well they should)—combining the fire of early-'80s thrash with the chunky, high-quality riffing of the late-'80s/early-'90s alongside unique vocals (at least by "modern" thrash standards) that are essentially sneered in key. Something about the group's overall attitude and approach injects a certain degree of hard rock energy, too—notable in some of the strongest guitar solos I've heard in a long, long, time. Not just fast 'n' flashy for the hell of it, or random melodic notes amidst chaotic flurries, these leads actually feel composed, thus adding character to the songs themselves.

All four (equally awesome) songs are three to four minutes apiece and make for a fairly consistent listen. "Black Wind of Death" contains a brief segment of unexpected "whoa oh" vocals and some of the finest guitar leads; "Brass Knuckle Shuffle" brings in gang backup vocals and slightly meatier, chugging rhythms; "Live Before You Die" is a dissonantly-edged metal anthem chant of "long hair don't care, middle finger in the air"; and "Defcon 1" holds a crossover type of energy in its intro, which is probably my favorite riff of the entire EP. Stylistically, they start to remind me of lesser-known old school gems like Panic, Aversion, etc.

The production is very good: just a little bit rough around the edges, but surprisingly clear and well mixed. Great guitar tones, you can make out the bass, and despite a hint of rigidity to the percussion, everything works out fine. I wouldn't be surprised if they played it together live in the studio, but I'm not sure if that's actually the case.

The music arrives in a simple CD-R + DVD-R digipack combo, where the DVD is a mere three minutes long (containing a video for the title track). The inner panels include the lyrics, which cover standard aggressive topics such as violence, rebellion, nuclear apocalypse... you know the drill!

Anger finds its way
Deep into my veins
Robs me of my sanity
Been stepped on way too much
Feel I'm losing touch
Stepped on but I've had enough

Hit the floor
Face smashed, to settle the score
Blood will shed
Play games with me, you'll wind up dead

As much as I love physical product, however, I'd certainly encourage the band to sell digitally via Bandcamp, etc.—simply to provide a fast and inexpensive alternative to ultimately get their music in front of additional listeners.

Had Slikk Wikked come up during the full-on thrash revival of the early-2000s, I'd have to believe they'd have been scooped up by a label and made a decent run for themselves. That being said, I actually think this material feels much more genuine now, and they're definitely coming from a different/more enjoyable perspective that stands apart from comparable acts that are still kickin', so I'd love to see them score some opportunities for wider exposure.

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