Slough Feg (The Lord Wierd) - Hardworlder 4/5
1. The return of Dr. Universe
2. Tiger! Tiger!
3. The sea wolf
5. The spoils
6. Frankfurt-Hahn airport blues
7. Galactic nomad
8. Dearg doom
10. Poisoned treasures
12. Whirling vortex
13. Street jammer
The 6th full-length CD from Northern California’s Slough Feg delivers more of the band’s unique, Celtic-edged epic melodic metal, falling somewhat in style and quality between their last 2 CDs, 'Atavism' and 'Traveller'.
For those unfamiliar with the band, you need a lot of adjectives to bring you up to speed. This is certainly heavy metal with plenty of melody in the vocals and the guitar work, but while at times covering more traditional styles of Iron Maiden and similar bands, there are a lot of unique elements that they have thrown in from the very beginning, with a Celtic and folk edge, as well as a 70s element of more free form jam. While by no means derivative, I always thought they would have a heavy appeal to those who enjoyed the unique Epic stylings of Manilla Road, especially in the sardonic majesty singer Scalzi conveys with his vocals (which are like a stronger, more constant, and less nasal of the great Mark Shelton), but with a Skyclad element thrown in as well.
This latest CD covers that tradition for the band and covers it well. From the title to the cover art, you can tell this isn’t going to be epic-elves-and-dragon-fantasy stuff, despite the fact there a lot of sci-fi and similar themes woven into the lyrics, and ultimately is some stunningly written stuff. “Tiger! Tiger!” riffs off a William Blake reference into some great stuff on epic cosmic destiny, and throughout you will get some really entertaining lyrics. The songs for most part are quite engaging and captivating in the above style, even if overall I might prefer the work on 'Traveller'. The production is front and center with Scalzi’s imposing and original voice, along with a strong focus on the lead guitar melodies.
The most ironic moment of the CD might be the cover of “Street jammer” by Manilla Road. I may not be remembering correctly, but somewhere in the band’s early moments I seem to recall 2nd hand knowledge that the band hadn’t heard Manilla Road despite some of the similarities. If so they have since discovered them, or perhaps I recall incorrectly. Anyway, the irony is that, for a band like Manilla Road who won my heart with their most impressive songscapes of myth, literature, and history woven with poetic elegance, being covered by a band with its own impressive libretto, that they chose a Manilla Road song about driving around cranking all the latest tunes. I would have traded the quirky choice to hear them cover one of the truly majestic tracks by the road, but at least the band’s original work stays on that road, and the cover of the Horslips’ “Dearg doom” is instead completely at home with the band’s style.
So, for those who really love this band, they will not be disappointed and should pick it up. Those who weren’t fans probably won’t be won over. For those who haven’t heard them before, 'Twilight of the idols' and 'Traveller' might be even better places to begin, but if they like a uniquely styled blend of melodic metal with plenty of lead guitar bite, quirk, and celtic influence, this should definitely be an enjoyable listen. Those who really want Hammerfall, Stratovarius or Rhapsody part 17, however, will probably not find what they are looking for here.
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