The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: The Lord Weird Slough Feg – Traveller
Since my previous post was about the amazing concept album, Operation: Mincdrime, I felt it was best to continue in that direction for this post. A buddy of mine who I meet when I was in college introduced me to this next band, and thank the gods he did. I was completely unaware of them, never heard any of their songs, let alone their name. So once I was given knowledge to their existence, I did like any other person would do, and quickly got my ass in gear and picked up some of their albums. So as I got myself better acquainted with their material, there was one album that stood out among them, the one I would go to countless times and never grow tired of…
Beginning their formation in Pennsylvania in the early 90’s and later relocating to San Francisco, a band who combined heavy/power metal with some folk influences, took their name from the main villain in a British comic book series titled Slaine, and have had a very successful amount of albums in their two decade career, Slough Feg (The Lord Weird Slough Feg), are one of those bands that are somewhat under the radar. Although they are known and well praised within the metal community, they are more of a cult band, with very little acknowledgment (due to lack of decent distribution of their albums) when being compared to the more well known acts that are always in the forefront. It’s a damn shame too, as these guys are simply amazing musicians and have the albums to prove it.
With a total of eight full-length albums, one in particular has and will always be my go to album of theirs, their 2003 album, Traveller. What instantly hooked me right away was the fact that it was a concept album, and boy do I love concept albums. Another plus, it’s a sci-fi, rock opera-esque album that is based on a 70’s RPG fantasy game featuring a space pirate who becomes a half-human, half-dog creature after genetic experiments… yeah you heard that right. One would think this is a recipe for disaster, but fear not, Traveller is an album of epic proportions, as it is well written and well executed.
The song structures of each track are well done, and it’s clearly evident these guys know what they’re doing. There are plenty of memorable riffs with the highlights being the fast and energetic “Asteroid Belts”, the doomy feel of “Vargr Moon” and the rapid galloping in “The Final Gambit”, which could be compared to the likes of Iron Maiden, but luckily Slough Feg puts their own spin on the music to separate themselves from the classic bands they are influenced by. Guitarists Scalzi and Cobbett just fill the entire album with catchy riffs that will no doubt get stuck in your head way after you hear them, and the same goes for the solos, which are just as strong as the riffs.
Another strong attribute to this album is the vocals. Mike Scalzi is another talented voice in the metal community, often taking comparisons to Bruce Dickinson, but similar to how the music takes on it’s own form, so do the vocals. He has enough characteristics of his own that make him unique and hardly a Dickinson knockoff. Tracks like “Vargr Moon”, “Vargr Theme / Confrontation (Genetic Prophesy)”, “Baltech’s Lament” and “The Final Gambit” showcase the passion, emotion and strength in his voice, that it carries those songs to higher levels on intensity. His delivery takes the concept and breathes life into it, and that my friends, is the work of a true vocalist/frontman.
The handling of bass guitar on Traveller by Adrian Maestas is perfect, and not once is he left in the dark behind his fellow band mates. The production on this album in no way lacks in the bass department, as it’s audible throughout, most notably in “The Spinward Marches” (both tracks), “Baltech’s Lament” and “The Final Gambit”. The same can also be said of drummer Greg Haa, who displays great knowledge of playing his entire kit rather than mindlessly smashing the snare drum, which a fair number of drummers tend to do.
Overall, Traveller is a top-notch album, one that deserves more credit and listeners than it already has. The album flows smoothly as all tracks work in a cohesive manner and it’s bookended well between the intro and outro track of “The Spinward Marches”. There is a bonus track, but this review is based on the core album. But if you get a chance, definitely check out “Addendum Galactus”, it’s a terrific closer to the story, which leads me to think they should have included it, rather than have it as a bonus, but I digress. So do yourself a favor and check out Slough Feg, and if not this album, than any of their other material, your ears will thank me later.
The Lord Weird Slough Feg – “Gene – ocide”
(Warning: 2:39 to 3:44 may cause uncontrollable ear-gasms)