Wykked Wytch and Kalakai

Death comes to Churchill's this Saturday in the skinny form of South Florida's hottest extreme/death/thrash-metal acts.

Miami-based headliner Wykked Wytch has been making records for 10 years. Powered by the caterwauling vocals of Kittie-sound-alike Ipek, the band tempers its extreme metal sound with a fetish for theatrics that recalls King Diamond. Ipek released the group's 1996 debut album on her own Cauldron Records label. Titled Something Wykked This Way Comes, the CD quickly sold so many copies that her operation was unable to meet demand. UK-based metal label Demolition Records happily picked up the slack and released the disc in Europe. Three albums and a handful of European tours later, the band is dangerously close to blowing up nationwide, having toured the States last year with industrial metal faves Hanzel und Gretyl.

The fellow Miamians of Kalakai take up their Cannibal Corpse-style brand of death metal to lead the backup charge. In their Opa-locka rehearsal space, the five bandmates are busily writing songs for the first album. Their 25-year-old singer, Ash James, advises that the LP probably won't be in stores until year's end. "We're talking to a few labels," he reveals, "but right now I'd be fine with releasing it ourselves. At this point we're just all about buckling down and doing a lot of writing."

There might be a paucity of local venues willing to house metal shows, but James believes the genre is catching fire. "Thrash metal and, really, metal in general, is making a huge resurgence," he says. "A lot of the new bands out there are heavily influenced by the thrash and hardcore bands of the early Eighties and Nineties, and they seem to be gaining more and more exposure. The tide's also turning because of the summer metal tours, which expose a lot of unknown bands to the masses. Also a lot of the European Gothenburg-influenced stuff is gaining immense popularity here in the U.S."

As is the case with any metal renaissance, there's a whiff of rebellion in the air. Says James: "The mass market has force-fed kids a lot of remanufactured bullshit in recent years, and they are really starting to reject it." — Eric W. Saeger

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Eric W. Saeger