Speed Metal Je Ziv!
posted on 10/2012 By:
There’s an odd pleasure in diving into a release from a band you’ve never heard, and whose minimal online presence means you know next to nothing about. From grainy pictures on the Serbian band’s Facebook page, I deduce that they have three members who must live entirely either on stage or in a forest somewhere in the Balkans. Everything from Horror Piknik’s name to the cover art to the band’s leather and bullet-belted fashion suggests a healthy serving of thrash and a willful disregard of the past twenty-five or so years of metal history.
I assume that the Speed Metal Je Ziv! EP is the band’s first release, but can’t really confirm that. What I can confirm is that these five tracks rattle on by in just over fourteen minutes, and that the band’s sturdy but unspectacular thrash nods mostly in the direction of crude interpretations of Kreator, Dark Angel, and particularly Slayer. The earnest, clenched-jaw vocals of guitarist Zombi Zlikovac actually do sound rather uncannily like an Araya / Petrozza mash-up, and while the trio format of the band provides less opportunity for flashy solo breaks without overdubbing than a tandem guitar team would, the brief leads that do appear are welcome.
Horror Piknik plays tightly, and the riffs, though largely rote, have enough of an air of authenticity (ca. 1986) that it’s easy to enjoy the band’s enthusiasm without bemoaning its unoriginality. The problem, however, is that the songwriting is underbaked. Some of the transitions come off awkwardly, the band never quite red-lines the adrenaline levels, and where the “spooky” overdubbed vocals toward the end of “Smrt Dolazi” feel like they should help catapult the song into a bottle-smashing thrash break, they instead just end the song limply.
Still, Speed Metal Je Ziv! ends strongly by saving the best songs for the end – “Horror Strah Uzas Kraj” builds in some subtle guitar overdubs that give the midsection a hint of thrash’s spawning ground of proto-blackness, and closer “Kameni Golem” writes in a half-tempo section reminiscent of Metallica that cruises back up to speed with a much-needed bit of Slayer solo squall. Heavy metal at its anonymous, unpretentious best still works wonders, and sometimes three dudes thrashing in a room with some beers is all there is: The medium is the message.
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