If Kevlar Bikini’s two albums are anything to go by, Slovenians know how to party. The genre-shifting mavericks from Zagreb excited a fair few corners of the internet community with their début album Explodisiac, a rip-roaring thirty minutes of wholly irreverent punk-n-roll, and a standout acoustic ballad entitled “Urinea” that sported a laugh-out-loud chorus of ‘Got poor bladder control, that’s why I piss on everything you stand for’. And so, with tongues firmly poking through the cheek, they’re set to barrel through second round Hi Fi Or Die, now a whole thirty-five minutes!
The album starts on a high note; opening salvo “Wow?!” kicks off with a rockabilly riff before the bass roars into action à la The Hellacopters, with vocalist Matija Auker front-and-center giving his unique vocal performance. His voice is a melting pot of influences by itself: his mainstay is a hoarse yet warm singing style dripping with a whole lot of snark, but he also packs a powerful scream, used to great effect on the high-intensity “Hit-It-Right-Or-Go-Home”, and another particularly memorable moment in “Anti-Rock” where he sounds remarkably like Serj Tankian (System Of A Down). The other band members come out similarly swinging, particularly Mario Berta’s thick and bouncing bass; you can tell the record was mixed by Sunlight Studios, the same place responsible for the thick tones of Swedish death metal.
For fans of Explodisiac’s hilarity in the lyrical department, there’s much to giggle about: “Summer Of Hate” purports to be about a black-semen-turned-hateful-demon, and “Twisting By The Cesspool” sees Kevlar Bikini mock themselves and others with lines like ‘Work hard, obey the rules/Procreate and be a tool’, and a flamenco-esque guitar line just because. Even when the band fly off the radar on final track “Doom Mood”, whereby they create a two-minute number more likely found on a violin-infused sludge-doom metal record - yes, you read that correctly - with the palindromic title being yelled into oblivion; even then, the band still leave the listener with a smirk on their face.
Except...not every song is so cheeky. “Hoax Revolution” is the band’s first foray into a semi-serious topic, a jangly-chorded number with an ax to grind on political apathy: “Promise them everything, worry about it later/Before doubt creeps in, and they find something better”. The music is similarly off-kilter from the rest of the album, full of mid-tempo gloomy melodies and a drum pattern that lacks pizzazz. It’s an odd misstep, but fortunately one of only a couple on the record; the other inexplicable inclusion is a mini-intro into “Anti-Rock” that serves little purpose except to drill the mantra of ‘Death to all that is anti-rock’ into everyone’s skulls.
Summing up Hi Fi Or Die succinctly is a tough, but what comes through is a cocksure confidence and a defiant message that Kevlar Bikini will not be changing their fun-lovin’ ways. To quote from “Human Spittoon”, ‘that nonsense amp is cranked to eleven,’ and the lads are blasting spectacularly through the speakers.