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Slough Feg’s trip to Poland was a most prosperous one indeed. Not only did the San Franciscan outfit make its first trip to Warsaw memorable and intense with a blistering performance worthy of mention alongside live forays such as Live and Dangerous or Sabbath’s limited Live at Hammersmith Odeon, they documented it on DAT, warts and all. In an initial pressing of only 500 CD copies (vinyl should be in your hands by the time this is posted) from a small label in Poland I was like a small child awaiting its arrival in my mailbox.
Made in Poland was the adopted title for this record after Mike Scalzi’s suggested War-Saw was rejected, but I’ll tell you that this record is just like a buzz saw going right through your stereo system. This is unpolished perfection at its finest. Slough Feg delivers a quality product every time they venture onto a stage, but at this locale it seemed to transcend the typical. This offering has bumps and bruises, such as a brief channel defect in “High Passage/Low Passage”, but for a trader of ‘fan’ edition recordings many a moon ago this is nothing I’m not used to. The sound is straight from the board, heavy and hideous within the confines of a heavy metal output that absolutely screams to be heard. These songs come off even better in this most intense setting; this is how a live offering should be released. If you polish it or rerecord things ala Tribute or the coveted Alive it renders it studio-enhanced, shelving and diluting the ‘live’ feel and essence. This does, indeed, make a difference.
I will say the one small annoyance is the drastic splice work in tracks. No music is ever cut off or callously omitted, but much like a bootlegger of years’ past that vied to save tape space for actual music and cut out between-song chatter we have a small dose of the same. It doesn’t disrupt the flow much and is infinitely better than the insipid fade-outs between tracks on some live records. To hear “Ape Uprising” bellowed out like an angry bar band behind fenced wire is utterly fantastic! The deep and full sound to this recording is what makes it well worth having. This band has been called the next coming of the mighty Thin Lizzy, and while I agree there is inarguable evidentiary music to support such grand claims it does little to add to Slough Feg’s own ability. The band creates some of the hardest metal music in the land, and this live recording showcases just how powerful and true to form these guys are; there is no half-assed derivative here and the music shows every inch of the Slough Feg prowess. Scalzi’s between song banter is hardly long-winded like Mikael Akerfeldt’s copious speeches that usually eats up more time that a “Black Rose Immortal” remix, but it does get clipped for time, something I don’t relish, but it is all about the music after all. He has a genuine rapport with the audience and it funny and spirited, and it’s a shame these moments were left on the floor. Still, for a small press run like this we take these little annoyances and run with them.
With amazing versions of “Ape Uprising,” Shakedown at the Six”, “Warriors Dawn” and my favorite Lizzy cover, “Sha la La” this will fast become one of the more important and criminally undervalued live recordings of our day. As I mentioned, the production is raw, but not thin or veiled anywhere. There would be nothing stopping you from enjoying Made in Poland except it going out of print before you grab one. Seek and ye shall find….
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)