Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Slough Feg - 'Down Among The Dead Men'

A lot of recent bands that try to play traditional NWOBHM-influenced metal sound really fake to me, because they're too polished and slick. Even when the original NOWBHM bands were impeccable as musicians, there was always this raw edge to their music that really sealed the deal. Something that wasn't amateurish or simplistic like punk, but similarly immediate, which gave the impression of a band with no time for artifice, for anything except simple inspiration and pure energy.

The Lord Weird Slough Feg, or simply, Slough Feg, appear to have listened long and hard to their old Iron Maiden, Angel Witch and Omen records (and, just as important, probably picked out some classic Thin Lizzy as well) and learned their lessons well. While their musicianship and songwriting are great, they're never so slick and polished that I feel like puking a little into a silken barfbag instead of headbanging along. Their main man Mike Scalzi, who both sings and plays guitar is an especialy treasure - he has a great, very Brit-sounding voice that hits those heroic, bombastic pitches and cadences really well, without ever sounding like he's singing a national anthem or a hymn. His riffs are as good, chunky and catchy, irresistably energetic and driving but melodic too.

The song-sequence that consists of 'Beast In The Broch', 'Heavy Metal Monk', 'Fergus Mach Roich' and 'Cauldron Blood' is just great, a real metal epic. 'Warriors Dawn', 'Sky Chariots' and 'Death Machine' are flamboyant, heroic tracks that don't sound self important or stale, and the OTT lyrics of 'Troll Pack' show that the band can retain a crucial sense of humour amongst their more earnest mythical content.

The Eiderdown-Stuffing Bottomline: Juicy, infectious metal that reminds you of the best of NOWBHM without sounding like a cheap nostalgia act. I didn't think it was possible to play Maiden-inspired riffs and melodies and still sound so fresh and original. Well done!


Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

And a well-done review! I've yet to hear this album, but I have one of their others from a couple years back. A lot of people put their name into my ear before I officially reviewed them

JP said...

Thanks. I've got a couple more albums by them to get to - funnily I first heard of them because SF writer John Scalzi once did a search for other Scalzis on the net, resulting in a post about Mike Scalzi's band! They're not related, but apparently you'd like John Scalzi's books if you like Heinlein, but with less chauvinism.