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Slough Feg has a pretty decent history of solid releases. Down Among The Deadmen and Traveller are often referred to as modern day heavy metal classics, and their first two albums were flawed and very raw, but still great pieces of folk and fantasy inspired heavy metal. But after dropping “The Lord Weird” portion of their name, there seemed to be a light dip in quality. They’ve yet to release a bad album, but something seemed missing.
The intro, Return of Dr. Universe, starts the album off in a somewhat confusing manner. Slough Feg are no strangers to short instrumentals, and even if I don’t like all of them, they usually aren’t bad. This one on the other hand is particularly weak. It’s ok musically, but doesn’t really go anywhere or do anything. Having heard the demo album, this is obviously a shorter, instrumental version of a song called With Thoughts of Sympathy, which makes me wonder, if you want to do a throwback to the demo, why not just do what you did with Spawn & Die/Overborne, and just re-record the whole song? Galactic Nomad is a little better, but both it and Whirling Vortex both scream ‘under-developed song’ rather than ‘well-written instrumental.’
The album also contains two cover songs. One is a cover of Manilla Road’s Street Jammer. Manilla Road is a band I enjoy a great deal, but Street Jammer is one of those songs I’ve always thought is just ‘ok.’ And while Slough Feg do a decent job with it, and it fits the album, I could probably write a book about the Road songs I’d rather hear them cover. The other cover is Dearg Doom by Horslips. This one is significantly more fun, and is a welcome addition to the album, with its upbeat, Irish tinged riffing.
One problem I have with a few of the original tracks is that, while they’re almost all good, a few seem to go on a little too long. Tiger! Tiger! Is a wonderful song which has a great epic outro, but could probably be trimmed down by a minute or so. Almost half the song is the outro riff. The title track is also a little overlong, but by nearly as much. Insomnia is a great track that almost reminds me of something Di’Anno-era Maiden would write, but it transitions into an ending that sounds like some epic Manowar ending, and while the transition is, oddly enough, smooth enough, it seems entirely unnecessary.
On the other hand, a few songs seem to suffer from a problem that was common on Atavism, which was that they feel like they end before they really get fired up. In this case the culprits are The Spoils and Frankfurt-Hahn Airport Blues. On the other hand, The Sea Wolf, while short, does a great job of knowing exactly how long to continue, without overstaying it welcome, or seeming too short.
In the end, this is still a solid album. It has its flaws, and doesn’t quite live up to the band’s classic period, but the flaws can be overlooked. Karma-Kazee, Poisoned Treasures, and even Tiger! Tiger! and Insomnia are among my favorite works by the band. But I have to recommend that if you’re new to the band, you temporarily overlook this album in favor of some of their earlier works, or maybe Animal Spirits. Just don’t forget to come back to it if you enjoy their other works.
Ahhh traditional heavy metal. I listen to bands like Maiden, Sabbath, and Priest because they have such a huge catalog of classic albums. I was a very casual metal fan in 2007, and didn't know about many modern metal bands. I was happy with all of those 80s metal bands (hell, even a hair metal band or two...that's all, I swear). Then I decided my collection wasn't nearly big enough, so I asked all of my metalhead friends for their modern favorites in metal...no screaming please (I didn't come to love death metal yet). I was suggested Hardworlder, and I loved it, even though I had asked for more modern stuff.
Then I looked up more info on it. 2007. I stared at my computer screen in disbelief. It had sounded like I went back in time and was listening to a Maiden contemporary. Expect an interesting intro to the album, as The Return of Doctor Universe is full of odd sounding riffs and a few pauses. A little repetitive here, but after a little more than a minute, the real madness begins. Once Tiger! Tiger! begins, you're in for a wild ride. The vocals can only be described as ballsy and epic. One of the best voices to ever grace metal music. Tiger! Tiger!, a song based on "The Tyger", a poem by William Blake, is a shining diamond in the jewelery box of metal. The song shows off the amazing guitar work of Mike Scalzi (who is also the singer) together with Angelo Tringali. One awesomely fast guitar solo in the middle and one slow and melodic one for the last couple of minutes of the song. The ending solo is so good, it could be a song of its own!
This album has one specific cluster of songs that needs to be heard by all metal fans. Tracks 4 through 6 are Hardworlder, The Spoils, and Frankfurt-Hahn Airport Blues. When played back to back to back, they make for one huge song. Building on speed and raw talent, each song is different from the last, but they all fit together so well. They show off what the rest of the album has: Awesome solos surrounded by catchy riffs and Scalzi's amazing voice. My review does not do it justice. Only your own ear can fill you in on how monumental these songs are.
For the most part, the album is fast paced and heavy. A solo here, a solo there, a poetic lyric here, a solid riff there, and you have a rockin metal album. Even The Sea Wolf stands as a great song, despite the fact that it's a clean-guitar song. It displays their folky side, and that's a very good thing. The album also has two cover songs; a cover of Dearg Doom by Horslips, and a cover of Street Jammer by the band that influenced Slough Feg massively, Manilla Road. Both covers do justice to the originals, and are even among the best songs on Hardworlder.
If it wasn't for Hardworlder, my growing interest in metal wouldn't have increased nearly as much. Hardworlder was definitely the album that turned me from a casual fan to a metalhead. It is absolutely essential for any fan of heavy metal. Hardworlder by Slough Feg hit the ground running, and was an instant classic from day one.
After nearly two years, 2007 sees the release of “Hardworlder”, the sixth full-length album by the American heavy metal band Slough Feg. Despite their impressive list of records, Slough Feg still does not have a fan base as large as they deserve. It is not that they are an underrated band, as most people that have heard them give them praise; there is just a lot of people that still have not heard of them. This year’s “Hardworlder” might be the record that will change all of this.
Upon first listen, the biggest difference between “Hardworlder” and Slough Feg’s previous album “Atavism” is that the new songs sound much better developed and actually sound like a finished product. The biggest flaw on “Atavism” was that the dynamics that have always been an integral part of Slough Feg’s songs were kept back too much, resulting in songs that tended to sound cut off too early, keeping them from finding their way towards a proper end. Fortunately, this is not the case on “Hardworlder” and here the songs get the chance to take their time and meander their way through, with guitars breaking loose from playing in harmony to start a flurry of alternating solos. One of the best examples of this is the instrumental song ‘Galactic Nomad’.
All the characteristics of a Slough Feg album are to be found here again. The guitar playing is great and the rumbling bass, which is always audible in the mix, plays some interesting parts as well. The songs are unpredictable, making twists and turns, deviating from the expected pattern just to return to it again moments later. The only thing predictable about a Slough Feg album is that it will be unpredictable. The vocals of singer Mike Scalzi, one of the most easily recognisable elements, are present once again, though there seems to be less range used and variation shown on this album than on some of the previous albums (“Traveller” comes to mind). Despite this, there are still some beautiful outbursts to hear here and there.
Most of the songs are focused on topics influenced by space and other sci-fi elements, following the theme earlier touched upon on the “Traveller” album. Some noteable exceptions are ‘The Seawolf’, which is almost like a sea shanty with its acoustic playing, and ‘Dearg Doom’. This latter song, a quirky little cover by Irish rock band Horslips, provides a nice, peaceful break in the middle of the album and though it does sound different from Slough Feg’s regular songs, it does not seem out of place at all. It is followed by the fast-paced, galloping ‘Insomnia’, which ends rather nicely with marching drum sounds and vocals chanting (an element that is new in Slough Feg’s repertoire).
All in all, with “Hardworlder” Slough Feg have released a great album. Once again, there is enough variation to keep you listening to this album over and over again, but it is also recognisable and memorable enough to have you singing along after one or two listens. It has been said that true winners are defined by how they deal with their losses, and as far as I am concerned, Slough Feg show themselves to be real winners with this release. Recommended.
(Originally written for http://www.gothtronic.com/)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, The Lord Weird Slough Feg has probably reached your eyes or ears one way or another from glowing fanboy rants and reviews prophesying them to be one of the best metal acts ever. While some of this worship is rather inflated, our American friends have established a dependable popularity among loyal metal fans with consistent release after consistent release, and you can honestly apply that observation to any of their records, like “Hardworlder.” They say a golden egg leads to a golden farm, and that’s quite true as Slough Feg’s sixth CD continues down the valuable track of excellent heavy metal compressed into mild folk atmospheres.
These guys have no problem sticking to an agenda that focuses more so on catchiness and beefy textures rather than technicality or heaviness; in fact, this CD is solely based on those two qualities without anything else interfering, but that’s where intelligence resides. Strictly relying on a traditional metal agenda allows Slough Feg to build a metallic house of heavy riffs, memorable melodies, sweet harmonies and other great qualities while balancing stellar percussion and bass audio; I’d move there without question. Also, whoever wrote the guitar solos deserves an award as they are perfectly written and flow superbly through all instrumental shows regardless of speed and tone; really a neat addition to such a fundamentally-based album. Throughout "Hardworlder," there are several positive observations one will make, but the utter bulkiness of it all will certainly be the record's highlight for many people.
Though downright heavy metal at heart, our friends at Slough Feg use cosmic originality beyond what anyone could expect from a group related to their natural genre. Of course, Mike Scalzi’s vocals are as abnormal as it gets, but his signature gruff tone fits in magnificently with all musical anatomies whether he’s facing a whirling melody or some catchy riffing section. The folk edge is repressed a bit here compared to previous full-length efforts, yet it lightly flutters around while dropping in on occasion just for a warm greeting. Still, “Hardworlder” really glows with its two flawless covers of Horslip’s “Dearg Doom” and Manilla Road’s “Street Jammer” in which Slough Feg literally bends completely opposite sounds into high-powered rockers worthy of being labeled some of their most genius tunes. I guess a hundred heads really are that much better than one, right?
When the day ends, Slough Feg’s sixth full-length effort rightfully shows a chivalrous reputation this American-born crew formatted years ago by exploiting relaxing atmospheres and heavy designs into one mega-original disc that simply rules in every way possible. Yea it’s a bit overrated, but “Hardworlder” will still rock your planet with its dynamic structure; something Slough Feg has mastered over the course of several mighty studio records. “Hardworlder” will definitely hold a steady place in your CD player as any excellent release would, and nobody should miss out on its charming cleanliness.
Here's always the deal with me. I will and do not buy an album until and unless I've heard it before. I've downloaded, traded, borrowed, listened to samples online among other things to discover new music but an album has to convince me before I put my money on it. It's an investment and I'd like to do it right. But even to that golden rule of sorts, there are exceptions and there are bands who I'll blindly buy a new album by. It's less of a loyalty and more of a trust thing and I'm always right when I do it. It leads me to the classic and the latest example, Slough Feg's "Hardworlder".
Cruz Del Sur Music, the record label from Italy that plays host to these guys and a bunch of other pretty interesting bands that might have fit comfortably in the nwobhm and 80s metal scene (think Brocas Helm and Manilla Road) actually put up the whole album for streaming on their website. I instead placed a pre-order along with a couple of ass kicking Hammers of Misfortune digipacks for pretty cheap. It takes usually a couple of weeks at least for any orders to reach India but this reached me in 5 working days. Signs point to brilliant so far.
Artwork has a cool comic book feel to it. So far, better than Atavism, which although was my introduction to the band wasn't the band's best effort by any means. For a band like Slough Feg, it isn't going to be difficult to surpass that one and after half a dozen listens since I received it yesterday, I'm almost fucking sure that this new one is their best album till date.
This one is a winner throughout - catchier riffs and songwriting, but at the same time more complex and at times rawer and a lot more 70s, melodic and epic than before, harmonies that are jaw dropping and the solos, their best so far. Guitars are thoroughly and incessantly ripping throughout the album. But here's why it easily beats the shit out of Atavism - the celtic influences are more focussed this time around. If there was one problem with Atavism, it was with the celtic parts that at times seemed like it went on forever. But this time it's Slough Feg's turn to dish out that perfect album. Most of the monotone singing ala Mark Shelton is gone too and we've only got the epic folky singing Mike Scalzi.
I'll go ahead and call this a modern day essential if you're into folk tinged old school hard rock/metal executed with flawless finesse, complete with superlative production. Also included is a cover by this Irish folk rock band Horslips and at the very end of the album is a cover of Street Jammer from Manilla Road's early days.
Slough Feg are Mike Scalzi (Guitars, Vocals, Songs, Lyrics, Co-production) supported excellently by Antoine Reuben-Diavola (Drums), Adrian Maestas (Bass) and Angelo Tringali (Guitars) rounding up the current line-up.
This has to be my single most anticipated music album ever. I got into The Lord Weird Slough Feg in May of 2006, and they had just come out with a new album the year previous, so I had a long time to digest their entire back catalogue before they busted out a new album. I finally heard they were coming out with a new album early in 2007, and my anticipation grew with every new tidbit of information thrown out about it. Eventually I learned it's name, Hardworlder, and eventually began to mull over the infinite possibilities of what the album could contain. Was it better than Atavism, the band's weakest effort? Would it top other releases this year? What had the band done to refine their sound? The cover art was revealed, a very retro, comic book inspired piece of work that I like, gives off a real 'spacey' vibe and suits the album very well. Upon listening to a stream of the entire album on Cruz Del Sur's website, I immediately ordered it, knowing I'd love the hell out of it. And what now, after I've digested this album over the last few months?
Yes, this is a much better album than Atavism, more focused, catchy, and memorable by far. Slough Feg have evolved so far from the clunky, quirky, cool little underground band I first knew that it's mind-boggling. This is a much more clean, straightforward heavy metal release, yet it also makes its foray into greener pastures, adding in a variety of classic/prog rock nuances that will delight fans of that sort of thing. It's a sort of culmination of everything Slough Feg have done in the past, from their odd, folksy beginnings, to the catchiness of Down Among the Deadmen, to the spacey brilliance of Traveller, and finally to the heavy metal mastery of Atavism, yet also something new as well, as every Slough Feg album to date has brought with it. It's all polished into a short, accessible, catchy, yet complex and challenging release that will keep you headbanging and singing along for days, and that's not even counting how much these songs will be stuck in your head afterwards. They've mastered the art of writing short, condensed, catchy, and yet monumentally epic songs here.
Hardworlder is a very catchy album. Remember "Walls of Shame" from Down Among the Deadmen? Every song on this disc is as catchy, riffy, and memorable as that one was, no exceptions. I swear, I've rarely heard albums this catchy, even from European power metal bands. I know I might say things like that a lot, but I mean it this time, with all my heart. Slough Feg have somehow created an album so catchy that it transcends the realm of catchiness and into something else completely. Every song here will remain inexplicably lodged in your poor skull for weeks after the first or second listen. There's a noticeable 70s rock influence at work here in the guitarwork, and Mike Scalzi said himself that the album was meant to be a guitar oriented album. And it shows; the riffs here are polished, catchy as fuck, and fun, and the solos are beautiful (odd to use the word to describe a traditional heavy metal record, but they are), searing, nostalgic, and dazzling. Mike Scalzi may have lost his entire band before, but that doesn't matter an ounce if his new one can crank out material this good.
Slough Feg are no slouches musically, as has always been the case for them. This is actually a pretty simplistic album, yet it remains hooky and addictive as Hell, reeling you in and keeping you there. From Mike Scalzi and Angelo Trigani's dual guitar attack to the crunchy, whiddling basslines of Adrian Maestas, and the catchy, powerful drumming of Antoine Reuben-Diavola, the band is in full form on every song here. Scalzi's vocals haven't changed much, but they're more controlled, cleaner now, and he sounds phenomenal. A lot of his vocal lines make it sound like he's belting out some ancient, archaic folk tale instead of playing a heavy metal song, and I love that aspect of Slough Feg's music. And it doesn't even sound like they're straining themselves or working hard. This whole album just gives the impression that the band was jamming, as if playing songs this fucking good comes easy to them. It sounds like this all comes so easily to them; a carefree, laid back, yet still energetic and powerful attitude that makes the whole package more enjoyable.
The album kicks off with an instrumental intro, and Slough Feg's are always fun to listen to. "The Return of Dr. Universe" shows right away that the band hasn't strayed far from the sound of their previous album, but this piece is a bit more complex riff-wise, and the production is much cleaner and more enjoyable. It then blasts into the catchy 'advance single' type song, "Tiger! Tiger!", which is a straightforward, midpaced stomper that fades into a beautiful, searing guitar melody for the last minute or so. It's one of the catchier guitar leads I've heard in metal, and the song is a tried-and-true Slough Feg classic already. "The Sea Wolf" is a slower, moodier cut that recalls the band's old "folk bard" style; an acoustic jingle that will take you back in time, as if Mike Scalzi was channeling the spirit of a bard in the middle ages when he wrote it. There's even a bit of acoustic-sounding strumming in the beginning of the song, and I can't say this one sounds too much like anything the band has done before. Nothing on this disc really does, though, there aren't any obvious or blatant plagiarisms or 'deja-heard' moments, nothing like the previous album. While staying true to Slough Feg's sound, this album is also completely unique and original.
One of Slough Feg's favorite tricks is writing a bunch of separate songs that all stick together into a long epic if you listen to them back to back. And they do it here too, starting with the charismatic title track, which grows on me with every listen - truly one of the band's best works yet. Scalzi's foreboding, epic vocal lines over the doomy, sludgy riffs make this one an unforgettable journey into the sudden, booming riffs of "The Spoils", and the quick, traditional Slough Feg assault of "Frankfurt-Hahn Airport Blues" (which is one of the best songs they've ever done, surprisingly - one of the best riffs on the album!), all of which carry the trademark catchy, hooky vocal deliverance from Scalzi. "Galactic Nomad" is another instrumental, reminding me of those on Twilight of the Idols, except this one is a tad better, with a more polished, concise punch to it, like everything else here. I can't help but feel a shiver down my spine and a smile on my face whenever they start going into those winding, loopy solo sections that infect every single song here, and without Scalzi's vocals, it's even more noticeable here. Fucking great song.
Next comes "Dearg Doom", a cover of a song by the Irish folk band Horslips, whom I had never heard of before looking them up, after I received this in the mail. It's an exuberant, jumpy burst of energy that works well for the band, as all of their cover songs do. The lyrics seem rather humorous, and the riffs are some of the best on the disc, if I was forced to choose a few. I can thank Slough Feg for making me want to try Horslips myself, which I'll definitely do on my next download spree. And then we get a few traditional Slough Feg tracks with "Insomnia" and "Poisoned Treasures." The former is a jumpy, fun song which has some cool choir chanting toward the end, alongside one of the best theme riffs on this disc, and the latter is probably the most aggressive, badass song on the disc, with hard-hitting riffs and drum beats layered over Scalzi's infectious vocal performance. But don't stop for a breather yet, because you've still got to survive the pounding, doomy stomp of "Karma Kazee", which is one of the most epic songs the band has ever done, with cool lyrics and booming, resonating riffs to boot, ending with some oddly cool eastern-tinged riffage that I've never really heard from them before. I never did associate the band with doom metal, but this song does come fairly close. To close the album, we get another instrumental outro before the band launches into a cover of Manilla Road's "Street Jammer", which will no doubt serve as wet-dream material for fans of that band. Unfortunately I have never heard the original, but Slough Feg do a very good job of imitating Manilla Road, and the song is just as good as the others here.
This is not the old Slough Feg. I'm hesitant to give it a perfect score, as it does lack something that Down Among the Deadmen and Traveller had; that whole sense of folksy, carefree, messy fun - but they shouldn't be compared. Slough Feg isn't a perfect band, but what they are is creative. They've never released the same album twice, and to escape that trend, they've jettisoned out of the boundaries of heavy metal and into a new style completely. It's disappointing to compare this to the old Slough Feg because it's not the same thing at all, and if you want something like "Sky Chariots" or "The Wickerman" or "Highlander", then you should throw on their older albums, because there's nothing like those songs here on Hardworlder. This is a different band from before, and I suppose I'm willing to accept that now - this album is not work of the same band you knew in years past, but a new entity, and if you don't mind the change, then you just might love this as much as I do.
I think I've just about done this album justice by now, but I'll re-iterate to end the review: Slough Feg have completely outdone themselves with Hardworlder, and surpassed everyone's expectations after their weakest album. This is probably going to be one of my favorite albums of 07, if not my number 1, and it's endlessly catchy, replayable, epic and completely fucking cool in every sense of the word. I'm going to stake my bets on the belief that this is an album which will never grow old or lose too much of the power I witnessed on my first listen of it, and I'm giving it a perfect score because there's nothing wrong with it. Not a note out of place or a vocal line out of key, not a weak song or a filler in sight. I can only imagine what they'll do next...but maybe I can't, because Slough Feg is a band without limits or boundaries, and they'll never do the same thing twice. This band is going to keep getting better and better, ascending to the heavens and to metal stardom, and I'm proud to call them my favorite band. This isn't as good as Down Among the Deadmen and maybe not Traveller either, but it is certainly a spectacle on its own, and easily album of the year so far.
P.S. I'm not detracting points for this, but the protection shit that was loaded onto the CD Cruz Del Sur gave me is seriously not fun. At all.