By Carl Begai
Twenty years ago I wrote a review for Slik Toxik’s second full length album, Irrelevant. It was a darker and dirtier record compared to their official debut, Doin’ The Nasty, written and released at a time when hair metal / cock rock bands were well into taking a beating from the grunge scene takeover. Irrelevant failed to make the same impact its predecessor had, and ultimately turned out to be Slik Toxik’s swansong. Looking back on said review in the wake of Perris Records opting to release a 20th Anniversary edition of the record, two things are readily apparent: I knew what I was talking about even as a wide-eyed newbie to the music biz, and Slik Toxik were way ahead of their time.
And thanks to the internet age I’m not restricted to a tiny column in trying to explain why Irrelevant works, units sold in the past be damned.
As stated in my original review (photo below), Irrelevant was a diverse platter that deftly avoided being a scene-sucking travesty with regards to their roots (that’s what I tried to say, at any rate). On the one hand Slik Toxik went from being cock rock to a nailgun-carrying metal band, quite unexpectedly bashing people over the head with ‘Twentysomething’, ‘I Wanna Gun’, ‘Kill The Pain’, ‘Fashioned After None’ and ‘Just Fade Away’. The bigger shock, however, turned out to be tracks like the introspective ballad ‘Liquid Calm’, the smokey bar blues of ‘Blue Monday’, and the acoustic led south bent ‘Mother Machine’. Less surprising was the drive towards Alice In Chains territory with ‘Dive’ and ‘Drained’ given the times, the latter being the weakest song on Irrelevant.
Gotta say, though, that 20 years on it’s ‘Voodoo’ that stands out as being Slik Toxik’s finest moment bar none. Dark and evil, the band as a whole serves up what comes off as some kind of swamp grunge anthem at the outset, changing its face half way through to become a thundering Black Sabbath-metal monster that, quite frankly, nobody would have ever expected the Toronto prettyboys of a few years earlier to pull off.
One complaint I had about Irrelevant was the track sequence, as I originally felt the album started to lag half way through. Repeated listens in the here and now made me realize that (a) the connection between my ears and brain wasn’t fully formed, and (b) the album is laid out – by accident or design? – in a brilliant Side A / Side B format, six songs a side. This calls for a vinyl LP version, in case anyone at Perris Records is reading.
Die-hard Slik Toxik fans should note the cover of the Sex Pistols hit ‘EMI’ has been removed from the tracklist. The space has been filled with the 1989 demo version of the band’s runaway hit from Doin’ The Nasty, ‘White Lies / Black Truth’. A fine way to cap off a welcome throwback.
Irrelevant (20 Something Anniversary Re-Issue) tracklist:
“Kill The Pain”
“I Wanna Gun”
“Fashioned After None”
“Just Fade Away”
“White Lies / Black Truth” (1989 demo)
Exclusive photo by Johnathan Tsourounis