without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
"Traveller" is a riff storm. That's the best way to describe it. Slough Feg at their best are a raw, savage, saw toothed riff affair and nowhere does this portrait shine true as on their fourth effort. What Scalzi and crew conjure is by turns simplistic and ambitious, overwhelming and subtle and generally and vehemently visceral. "Traveller"'s gritty tone and mood is a far cry from the robotic and airbrushed aesthetics of many a power metal band today. Not that the music is strictly power metal. It maintains a traditional heavy metal atmosphere but also supplements its sound with nuggets from doom and speed metal. Thin Lizzy is always pointed to as the prime influence for Slough Feg but it is hard to say who they sound like. Black Sabbath-isms abound as does an affinity for the progressive chaos of a band like Legend or the rock n' roll heavy groove of Motorhead. Whatever feeds their passion, they mange to craft an altogether singular assembly that attests to the inherent absurdity of heavy metal as well as its unorthodox method of creative expression.
Every song on this album sounds great but if I am to state a complaint it would be that the songs don't seem to function on their own. They work in the context of the record where they flow fluidly, one into the other, but as stand alone tracks they tend to sound odd and indistinct. I tried "Baltech's Lament" on its own and it is a gloriously layered epic piece with a rousing vocal performance and a beautiful marriage of heavy and light but it seemed to draw its point of reference from earlier on the album that I was forced to listen back. I wouldn't recommend this for those looking for a quick fix. Like DoomSword, Manilla Road, Virgin Steele, Primordial and Darkthrone, Slough Feg are masters of the thorough art of tale telling metallically and have to be felt within their greatest extent for the mark to be made.
There's no filler here-everything is relevant and everything is necessary. Still, some songs are so damned noteworthy to not be touched upon individually. Witness "Curse of Humanity" for its antique 70's metal harmony leads and thundering intro riff, the aforementioned "Baltech's Lament" for its deft acoustic meanderings and Scalzi's earthy vocal lament that evokes both dread and delight, "Vargr Moon" for its torrent of classy riffs and "The Final Gambit" for a spirited lyrical delivery amidst riotous bass plucking and fiery leads. This is heavy metal in its purest form with nothing too profound and yet with no trait diminished to render it usable for the masses and as an overlooked classic it will maintain its status of greatness until time anoints it with the seal of legend it so rightly deserves. Here's to waiting in the wings...whilst headbanging.
Slough Feg is one of those annoying cult bands: fans of the group NEVER shut up about Slough Feg, Slough Feg, Slough Feg being soooooooo awesome, OMG. Endless seas of bodily fluids, all produced in the name of Slough Feg, that bothersome Slough Feg. It's bad when you hear a song or two from a band you wouldn't mind disliking and find yourself hooked. It's even worse when you dread all the masturbation, and then find yourself joining in on the circle jerk. I don't hate Slough Feg at all, I can't. They are far too good at being Slough Feg, even though the constant yapping does get a little exhausting. I did my best, but "Hardworlder" won me over with its iron charm and charismatic colors. Their sound is the real draw to the band, however; it's almost impossible to put into words. The best descriptions I've heard involve an Iron Maiden with Paul Di'Anno on vocals applying a Celtic folk vibe, or Thin Lizzy, Manilla Road, and some barrel-aged brawn like Brocas Helm joining forces.
Whatever they are or intend to be, Slough Feg is unlike anything in the realm of heavy metal. They've survived countless years marching onwards with a small yet loyal following through many hardships and several releases. Someone found the diamond in the rough of metal's unsung heroes valuable, however, as Metal Blade Records not only picked up the band after twenty-plus years in the business but reissued three of their seminal records: "Twilight of the Idols," "Down Among the Deadmen,"and “Traveller." These three albums are all fantastic pieces of idiosyncratic, bombastic heavy metal, sticking up more substance and originality than the status-quo of their cohorts both young and old. They are somewhat difficult to enjoy at first due to the tendrils of Slough Feg's style, but out of the aforementioned triangle of Slough Feg gems, "Traveller" is the icebreaker; the friend that can always open with the ladies.
Their fans often hail "Down Among the Deadmen" Slough Feg's finest hour, but I'm naturally attracted toward "Traveller" more often than not. Simply put, it has the steel and guts of Slough Feg rolled into gritty shots of heavy metal that go down smooth and guileless. It contains what is probably their finest song ever ("High Passage/Low Passage") and delivers cut after cut of heavy metal with the Slough Feg watermark tattooed on the cover. Based on some role-playing game from the 70s about dogs and space and professors and stuff, "Traveller" is wild, wacky, weird and wonderful; the definite introduction to a new world, made possible by Mike Scalzi and his legion of deadmen that he's down among.
Slough Feg ignites the voyage with what is definitely one of its best anthems ever: "High Passage/Low Passage." The galloping riffs conjure a primordial Iron Maiden vibe with the speed boosters kicked up a notch, bringing forth a nostalgic yet authentic atmosphere to the metallic kick. Sturdy, active percussion boils underneath the whole thing, and Scalzi's vocals—the gritty, honest laboring of a true working man—could conquer the universe. What a fantastic song! They immediately sway into "Asteroid Belts" without losing a degree of the intensity, soaring through monstrous solos and frantic structures with great precision. The whole concept routine makes many of the tunes weave together, yet the package manages to flow cohesively in a firm structure of iron deliciousness.
The contents of "Traveller" dip after "High Passage/Low Passage," but the remaining album isn't too shabby, either. "Vargr Moon" uncoils some nice atmospheric sections layered on a mysterious semblance of impending doom for its six-minute duration, definitely a cool tune. "Vargr Theme/Confrontation (Genetic Prophesy)" and "Gene-ocide" are jovial rockers showing Slough Feg's originality in prime form: several great guitar parts and leads lurk everywhere, always fun and upbeat. The mournful "Baltech's Lament" is also one of the standouts, with Scalzi's vocals meeting the sad acoustic guitars in an emotional rendezvous of lost hope and pain. Scalzi's voice is just perfect for Slough Feg's demeanor and identity; he's certainly an underrated vocalist.
The final handful of songs, especially "The Final Gambit" and "Addendum Galactus," ends the "Traveller" opus in prime fashion, making most of the record an enjoyable and ambrosial accomplishment. The album's sound quality has an explosive, abundant balance of Slough Feg's instrumental endeavors, and everything sounds like any heavy metal record should: loud, full, hungry. The Lord Weird Slough Feg, though, is blazing on all cylinders its ship has to offer here, and it's the best introduction to the group available. Efforts like "Down Among the Deadmen" have the edge of creative fulfillment and mastery, but "Traveller" is cocky and confident, pushing its way into metallic hearts everywhere with a sci-fi smugness that I can't help but adore. Like a falling snowflake, there's only one Slough Feg, and that is a glorious thing.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
About three years ago, back when I had first started doing this whole reviewing thing, I was a certified Lord Weird Slough Feg fanboy, to the point where I refused to refer to them by the shortened version of their name, despite going by simply "Slough Feg" for a few years at that point. Throughout roughly winter of 2007 and the next several seasons, I listened to their six albums enough times to ingrain them all into my memory for the rest of eternity. Because of that, I kind of burnt myself out on them. Ape Uprising was met with lukewarm hype from me and Animal Spirits was released without me even noticing. But with that said, I'd occasionally go back and listen to a few select tracks from each album, and this here, Traveller, was always my favorite to go back to, despite so many claims of Down Among the Deadmen being the best.
Those last few sentences probably seemed superfluous and unnecessary, but in reality it helps prove a certain point about this album, it is probably the most perfectly paced and well written concept album in all of heavy metal. I always pick on Blind Guardian's perplexingly overwhelmingly adored effort, Nightfall in Middle-Earth, as the perfect way to NOT write a concept album. NIME is horribly paced, with too much pointless filler trying to act as a vessel for the narrative, but instead breaks the flow of the music, which is what a metal album is all about, mind you. There are a few nut shatteringly great classics there but for the most part it's overblown and horribly paced and a chore to sit through. That is where Traveller gets it right, and what makes it such a fabulous album. Yes, it is a concept album, but unlike so many other overblown stories and epic journeys you'll find in metal storytelling, listening to the duration of this record in one hit isn't necessary at all to get full enjoyment from it. What I mean is, you can reach for a quickie and just blast "Asteroid Belts" or "Vargr Theme" or "Addendum Galactus" and have a grand old time without selling yourself short by not listening to the other nine songs on hand. But with that in mind, it's still ideal to listen to the entirety of the album in one shot, as the emotion really seeps through and the story's impact hits that much harder when given context. Everything meshes together for a great tale and still work as standalones. That is how concept albums should work, they should be versatile, and that's what makes Traveller one of the best out there.
The album tells the story of Baltech, a space mercenary who gets caught up in a scheme to genetically alter the human race by splicing their genes with those of the Vargr, a dog-like race, in an attempt to create a perfect master race under the command of the mad Professor Rickets. It's a pretty basic story, told in a pretty basic format, but what it lacks in creative structuring, it completely makes up for with how well written and engaging it manages to be. This is where the pretension I mentioned earlier is really going to rear its head, because this is a story I can feel instead of just understanding. I feel the helplessness during the final lines of "Baltech's Lament", I feel the conflicting forces of hatred and arrogance during the confrontation in "Vargr Theme/Confrontation", I feel the sense of accomplishment in "Addendum Galactus", I can feel every emotion that Mike Scalzi intended me to feel when penning this album, and that's what makes it such a smashing success.
I could prattle on forever about the superfluous merits of the record without even touching the actual meat, but I'll rein it in a bit here. Musically, this is Slough Feg at arguably their heaviest. There's a really poignant atmosphere throughout the album, suffocating us during the times when all hope seems lost and throwing us into a frenzy when the action ramps up. The riffing at leadwork is probably some of the best Slough Feg have ever put to tape. "Gene-ocide" contains some of the catchiest bits of metal recorded in the 21st century, the opening of "Addendum Galactus" also ranks up there. It's kind of difficult for me to describe the influences at work here, as Slough Feg has always had a very unique sound, and here they managed to reinvent themselves for the fourth consecutive album. The mindset behind this one is a bit more calculated and less organic than the previous three, while the Celtic tinge is entirely absent here, replaced with a spacey vibe to complement the story. The sound is varied throughout the album, with high octane rockers like "High Passage/Low Passage" and "Asteroid Belts", slower, churning tracks like "Curse of Humaniti", and of course some of the signature Slough Feg bounciness and energy with "Professor's Theme" and "Gene-ocide". There are even a few that blend two or more of the aforementioned styles to a masterful effect, like "Vargr Moon" and "Vargr Theme/Confrontation". The use of repeating themes throughout the album really helps add to the cohesiveness and overall feel of the album as well.
If there is any negative thing I could say about Traveller, it's that the drums are produced weird so that each tom sounds like it's stuffed with dead squirrels and are indistinguishable from each other, and "Curse of Humaniti" is kind of a weak link when it comes to the staggeringly high quality of songwriting here, but those are really minor nitpicks in the grand scheme of things. This is a journey that is completely worth embarking on, it's a fairly basic story that might be a little confusing without the booklet to explain some of the background, but the payoff is absurdly great. I can't recommend this enough. It's straight up heavy metal done in the way that only Slough Feg can. It's almost impossible to describe, you have to hear it for yourself. So quit reading my rambling bullshit and hop to it, kids.
Originally written for http://lairofthebastard.blogspot.com/
Let's skip the intro and get straight into the meat of the review. Put as simply as possible, Traveller is an extremely competent but remarkably boring album by an extremely competent but remarkably boring band. Think a bunch of ver proficient session musicians coming together with the aim of writing a metal album (like a metal version of Toto, minus cool tunes like 'Africa'). No real inspiration, no real motivation, certainly no emotion, just "let's compose songs in this genre and release it".
The arrangements are played in a manner that does sound metal, in the sense that distorted electric guitars play figures that are reminscent of Thin Lizzy and early, non-speedy Iron Maiden (speed would be too threatening!) being covered by Kenny Loggins, while the rhythm section and the vocals follow suit. They're not aggressive, much less threatening; and with a few exceptions (the Vargr 'suite', High Passage/Low Passage) they fail on being interesting either. For a band that seems so good on their instruments the complete lack of good riffs is astounding- Asteroid Belts, gene-ocide, Curse of Humaniti- does anyone remember even one segment from those songs? Thought not. It seems that Slough Feg are themselves aware of the painful lack of inspiration, thus the vague quirkiness, the kinda, sorta unique singer- because hey, metal isn't full of (far more) unique and one-of-a-kind vocalists already! There's even lyrics based on some 70's sci-fi; yep, nothing says visionary like doing that, oh yeaaaah.
Re-listening to it now, the studio musician vibe comes through surprisingly strongly throughout all of Traveller. The mix that's clean, flawless and airbrushed to the point of parody, the remarkably non-aggressive guitars (in both riffing patterns and tone), the complete lack of dynamics, of passion, of energy. The lack of energy is particularly palpable, this record makes Load sound like Pleasure to Kill in comparison. It's a band settling into a comfortable, easy beat and keeping it like that; aside from the occaisonal solo (High Passage/Low Passage, again) you get the feeling that the band could play this stuff while in a coma- and it wouldn't surprise me if that's how it was recorded. All in all, it really boggles the mind that a band could spend so much time getting the arrangements this tight yet still come up with something so freakin' boring. The completely hopeless, sing-in-exactly-the-same-register-and-tone singer sure as hell doesn't help matters either. Bland bland bland bland bland bland
In a sense I'd say this is as bad as obscure arabian DSBM; Slough Feg may have the instrumental proficiency and the ability to tune their instruments that Abdaalah Yaseen from Yemen may lack, but at least our imaginary arabian friend cares about the stuff he's making. I doubt Slough give a shit, and thus it's hard to give a shit about them. Don't support them.
There are many rock opera albums covering a variety of interesting subjects but finding one that can manage both the concept and songwriting perfectly is a rarity. Fortunately, Traveller happens to be one of them and it knows how to provide great tunes as well as a story to catch the listener's attention right away. Not a single track shows lack of importance to the album and each song knows how to be memorable as the last. The story easily brings the listener in with the somewhat unique sci-fi concept. Traveller is based on the role-playing game of the same name which only the hardcore role-players would have known about beforehand.
Mike Scalzi provides top notch vocals that are easily recognisable to any listener. He has a reminiscence of Bruce Dickinson but has enough characteristics of his own to prove he is a unique and talented vocalist in heavy metal. Scalzi shows a lot of passion in singing and keeps his strength throughout the album. The production of the vocals is well done and the echoes you hear from Scalzi certainly gives out a futuristic atmosphere to the album and anyone with a good imagination will have the feeling of being in outer space when they hear the power of his voice.
It is very hard to fault the performance of Scalzi and Cobbett on the guitars. Every track contains very memorable riffs with the highlights being the fast and energetic Asteroid Belts, the doomy feel of Vargr Moon and the galloping in The Final Gambit which proves to have a style of its own rather than sounding far too much like Iron Maiden. It is not required to listen to the album many times to have the riffs stuck in your head as they are awesome enough to have the songs singing inside you right away. These riffs are so blaring and lively that they don't need to be in the terms of extreme metal to sound heavy. The solos are just as strong as the riffs which can easily be heard in High Passage/Low Passage, Asteroid Belts and Vargr Moon. Along with fast and crazy solos, Traveller also provides very melodic solos as heard in The Final Gambit and Addendum Galactus which shows the diversity of solos played throughout.
Scalzi and Cobbett have to play so many notes on their guitars and the only time when they get a real breather is for the acoustic Baltech's Lament which proves to be a mandatory break. With so much chaos going on for six tracks in a row, there needed to be some relaxation not just for the guitarists but also the flow of the story.
Adrian Maestas does a great job at playing the bass guitar and the excellent mixing of the album never leaves him in the dark. It's not one of those albums where you can barely make out the bassist, you can hear it clear as day without any struggle. With the fantastic production that gives as much respect to the bassist as the rest of the band, the listener should be at ease with hearing the bassist. It's also a treat from the bassist when he knows how to give out kickass bass lines such as The Spinward Marches (both tracks), Baltech's Lament and The Final Gambit.
Greg Haa, the drummer of the band shows a versatile display. He has a great knowledge of playing his entire drum kit rather than mindlessly hitting the snare drum as a fair number of drummers out there tend to do. There is an excellent mixture of cymbals, snare drums and such all from one man and this should be very inspiring for anyone who wants to become a drummer. The finest performances of Greg on the drums have to be in Professor Theme, Gene-Ocide and The Final Gambit.
Additional points are credited to the album for the sound effects that are played. The sound effects undoubtedly make a huge contribution to the atmosphere of the album.
For an album that's about a wolf-like man from the Vargr race fighting the imperial troops in space, there would have been a feeling of absence if the sound effects were left out.
The song structures of each track are well done. There are some fantastic intros given out to the songs, especially Asteroid Belts, Professor Theme and Vargr Theme/Confrontation. Not only that, the endings also work out for them all to step aside for the succeeding track. The best examples are the closure of Profressor Theme for Vargr Moon and Vargr Theme/Confronation for Baltech's Lament. The listener can acknowledge the importance of every track in the album from the brilliant structures of the outros.
For a rock opera album, high quality lyrics are obviously vital to the album and Slough Feg made sure the lyrics are well written as well as keeping the listener's interest in the story from the introduction of the character in High Passage/Low Passage to Addendum Galactus' grand finale. Not much can be said without spoiling anything and the best parts of the story-telling should be saved until you hear it yourself. Whoever wants to know what happens are advised to pick up this album as soon as they can.
In conclusion, Slough Feg shows rock opera in heavy metal at its finest with their album. Every song hits the notes perfectly, Mike Scalzi offers incredible singing to the well written lyrics and the guitarists show versatility with amazing riffs and melodic and rocking solos. The bassist isn't ignored in the mixing and shows a strong presence while the drums are dynamic and energetic. The excellent musicianship with a story that is definitely worth following makes Traveller an album no metal fan should miss!
I've been listening to this album for about 3 days now. I don't know what came over me, but this is the only thing my Winamp saw. This album is highly addictive. Now, I am one of the people who consider power metal gay, cheesy and boring. Bands like Helloween, Sonata Arctica, Rhapsody or their clones don't mean absolutely nothing to me. The only genre close to power that I really like is the speed heavy Iron Maiden sings on their first albums. And this what you'll get here. A dark, fast sci-fi story about an old RPG I've never even heard of before this album. Its interesting because it didn't attract me when I first played it. I guess that's because, back then, I was hooked by Down Among the Deadmen (a real masterpiece) and this is pretty different.
As said above, this is a concept album. It's theme revolves around a Professor who turned the main character into a human-dog (human-vargr) hybrid using genetic engineering. Or something like that. The weird (Slough Feg) part is that it makes sense and you become captivated by the storyline. Of course, the lyrics are great. I can't really find a comparison, but I can guarantee they're better than any prog band I've heard. Yeah, this makes Dream Theater and Opeth shit in their pants. One of the few albums with complex lyrics that that doesn't use words because they sound "cool". There's another thing that helps you get in the atmosphere of the album. I don't know who Mike Scalzi is and where the hell he came from, but he's my favourite vocalist after Dickinson. A brilliant performance. His pronunciation is impecable, considering the flow of words and the changes in the tone. Also, Scalzi's vocal range is impressive. Best performances on Gene-ocide, Vargr Theme-Confrontation and The Final Gambit. The instruments reflect the genius of the band. I don't know much about playing such songs, but I can imagine the timing is hard as hell. There are sudden changes in the rythm, various riffs change unexpectedly just to return to their original sound and all sorts of little tricks that actually manage not to appear artificial. The drumming is in the back - where any good drumming should be - and is responsable for the dramatism present in the entire album. The guitars all-powerful here. Their clarity and musical quality in outstanding. Overall, the production is excelent. As for the songs themselves, The spinward Marches and The spinward Marches (Return) are the 2 instrumentals here. Both are under 2 minutes and fit perfecly. You can see a very accurate continuity between The spinward Marches and the next song. High Passage-Low Passage, Asteroid Belts and Professor's Theme present the two important characters. These songs are alert and have a pretty funny and cheerful sound. Vargr Moon and Vargr Theme are darker songs, and Scalzi reveals his true vocal range. If you have heard Down Among the Deadmen, you know what he can to from there. Hell, what am I talking about? Their entire discography is superb. There isn't a single band in the world with so many consecutive good and different albums. Just bloody get them!
One last thing: if you like them, spread the word.
"In all this world I only wanted to be independent
Clearly your madness brought this curse on me
Wait and see!"
It is truly a travesty that a band with as much talent and musical brilliance as The Lord Weird Slough Feg cannot even get decent distribution of their albums, let alone the massive popularity they deserve. To much power metal these days is bland, tame, uninteresting and just plain forgettable. And when I read that “Traveller” was based on a 70’s RPG fantasy game featuring a space pirate who becomes a half-human half-dog creature after genetic experiments… well, quiet frankly I was prepared for a shit sandwich. Holy fucking shit… was I wrong!
The Lord Weird Slough Feg’s “Traveller” is an absolutely perfect album, no matter how you look at it. The music itself is absolutely great and not really like anything you will have heard before. In my collection of just under six hundred metal albums I can’t say that I could really compare anything to Slough Feg. I think people call these guys power metal a bit too readily. They are power metal but in a similar way to how Iron Maiden were power metal on albums like “Somewhere in Time” and “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” (the greatest album ever). So if you’re wondering what sort of sound you’re getting on this album don’t expect the speed of Gamma Ray, the 6-8 timing antics of Lost Horizon or the “Lowest Common Denominator” power metal of Iced Earth but a very classic power metal (some will simply call them traditional metal and that’s a fair description) sound focusing mainly on theatric rhythms and melodies from mid to high tempos.
What about the singing and lyrics? Well, you’ll be happy to know that Mike Scalzi, the main creative driving force of the band, is equally as talented at producing awesome lyrics and vocal performances as he is at making great music to go with them. Don’t expect any high pitch screaming here. Scalzi may very well have a large vocal range, but if he does then he chooses not to use it and instead gives a dramatic vocal performance which fits perfectly with the music on this album.
There’s not much in the way of mind-blowing guitar solos on this album. No, the strength of this album lies in its excellent rhythm and melodies supporting insanely awesome lyrics and singing. The drumming is also great, not necessarily standing out but always very fitting in and making the rhythm and dramatic atmosphere that much better. The music is so great because it’s truly one long excellent performance, arranged to perfection much like Blind Guardian’s “Nightfall in Middle-Earth” or “The Crimson Idol” by W.A.S.P. There’s never a dull moment on this album. Hell, there’s probably not a single damn second of this album which you could say is boring!
Production-wise, well I think this is a very subjective area. As long as we don’t have guitars sounding like somebody shot a hole through them, amps with the bass turned up to 11 and everything else set to 0, snares sounding like cans of Pepsi… thank you St. Anger. But I don’t think anybody would complain about this album. Each instrument by itself has a great tone and the mix is about as perfect as you can get. You’d be hard pressed to find anything wrong with how this album sounds.
So, for a futuristic, doomy, totally mind-fucking-blowing album which doesn’t stop being fucking awesome for a single heartbeat you can’t go past this. And if you’re anything like me and have a special love for concept albums then you’re going to find yourself listening to this album over and over and over again. Whoever is reading this, please do whatever you can to get a copy of this album and others by this band because if any obscure metal band out there deserves huge popularity it’s these guys! And if this many reviews going nuts for this band and giving several of their albums close to 100% doesn’t convince then I don’t know what fucking will! Nor do I care! If you want totally awesome fucking metal then invest in The Lord Weird Slough Feg and their album “Traveller”… if you want more and more of the same tired, old, repetitive, uninspiring trash then by all means go and listen to the last few HammerFall albums or pretty much anything by Iced Earth.
Support, quiet possibly, the best and most creative metal band around today. Support REAL metal!
Anyone who doesn't know this band should be immediately initiated, and give their entire discography a listen. Unfortunately that's not possible for some people, seeing as this is one of the most obscure and underground bands there is (due to some tomfoolery by their former label, Dragonheart Records), and their albums got little to no proper distribution. It's a great shame how bands like this slip through the peripheral vision of most metal fans and people in general, because this band is absolutely first rate. Their popularity seems to have been spread by word of mouth, as I was surprised by the number of reviews they have on this site. But enough griping...this album is absolutely killer, just like mostly everything Slough Feg puts out.
Traveller is a more polished version of everything Slough Feg has put out in the past, much less inaccessible, and much more focused and sleek. The production is the best they've ever gotten, and all of the band members are doing a great job. It's not as weird or folkish as Twilight Of The Idols or Down Among the Deadmen, but the band makes up for that with improved songwriting and musicianship in all areas. It's a concept album based around a 70s science fiction RPG game of the same name as the album, and while I'm not familiar with the game, this is a very original idea...can you name any other bands who would go so far out there and do something like this? Mike Scalzi is a lyrical genius, by the way, and his rhyming schemes sound absolutely perfect with his deep, theatrical voice and the weird, sci-fi riffs packed in here. As others have stated, his lyrics are similar to folkish poetry, and I've never read anything like them. Amazing. Although I don't often get into depth with the lyrics, I have to say Slough Feg's lyrics are among my favorites.
The music here is, as I stated previously, sleek and polished, and goes along with the futuristic science fiction themes found in the lyrics. The riffs are big and chunky and slightly reminiscent of Iron Maiden's early work. And the solos are great fun, screaming and ripping across cosmic planes with a truly unstoppable force (heh). The rhythm team gives the album more energy then it already had, and the band really shows their experience here, with a tight, functioning album with no huge flaws. The songs here are all very cool, and it'd take too much time to describe all of them. I can't even choose a favorite, as every single song has some redeeming factor, whether it be cool vocal lines that sound as if they're coming from inside a space helmet or spacey, futuristic riffs that blast by you like cannons firing from an intergalactic pirate ship. "The Final Gambit" is very cool, with a galloping Maidenish riff and some absolutely killer vocal lines. And "Baltech's Lament" is worthy of note, as it is an acoustic, almost balladesque song, something which Slough Feg haven't done before. And hell, even the instrumentals "The Spinward Marches" and "The Spinward Marches (return)" are both great, stomping riff-mongers far beyond the fluttery keyboard intervals that other bands use these days. "Vargr Moon" is a doomy song much like "Bi-Polar Disorder" from the Twilight of the Idols album, except way better. And "Addendum Galactus" has a mindnumbingly cool opening riff that could likely impregnate any unsuspecting women in the room, it's that catchy...aw fuck I could go on all day about these.
If you want a disc of unabashedly cool and weird heavy metal, then you'd do well to pick up Traveller. There's no other band like Slough Feg, and along with Down Among the Deadmen, this is probably their best. Get it, or be denied entrance to the gates of Valhalla after death. Absolutely essential.
Wow. First of all let me start by saying that I am not normally a heavy metal (in the sense of classic heavy metal) fan at all, or of old school, power, doom, etc... But Slough Feg just completely and utterly blew me away. In my view, this is EASILY the best heavy metal album I've ever heard (I still need to buy the rest of their discography though so I can't compare to their other albums).
From the very start you know this album is going to be something special. Churning, battle-drum like rhythm guitar starts it off and soon some airy Celtic-tinted leads come into the picture. Then the first song hits you and you'll find that you have a very, very sore neck. Riff after headbanging riff hit you hard and fast and all with great celtic leads placed carefully. The solos are also (usually) tastful and not showy or wankish (and keep in mind I am VERY picky when it comes to solos, normally I can't stand anything other than pure, lyrical melodic solos)
I'd also like to comment on the lyrics, which are excellent. You'd think that given the lyrical topic (a 70's space RPG) Traveller would be full of horribly cliched, cheezy lines but, surprisingly, it's not. In addition to being a great vocalist, Scalzi (the genious behind the band) is a brilliant poet. He's not writing incredibly deep, moving, contemplative poetry here, but rather ballad like stanzas and couplets one would expect from a classic folk poet or something similar. And he's great at it. It also helps that he delivers them with such incredible conviction. The almost absurd Vagr-dog men world sung of in this concept album really comes alive.
The rhythm section is also definitely worthy of mention. The drumming is always spot on, thankfully not drowning out the rest of the music out in any blast beats but providing some great rolling, often celtic-like rhythms (think Primordial) The bass complements the drums perfectly, and occasionally even has short little leads that interact with the guitar lines well.
Anyways, every single song on this album is fantastic, even Baltech's Lament, a calm acoustic song, with very folkish overtones. To be honest I wouldn't have expected Slough Feg to be able to stick this one in the middle of the album and get away with it, but it works, and provides a satisfying break (as if you needed one), from the metal onslaught. Every song is very triumphant in mood, and makes you want to go beat the living crap out of something (sorry, best thing I could come up with), which for me, means it's good.
In conclusion, buy this album and spread the word! This band needs to be recognized!
I haven't had this much of a blast listening to a metal album in a while.
Wow. This album is total perfection. I'm not very familiar with this bands past and their previous releases, but this album hit me hard when I first heard it and it's been a favorite of mine ever since. The Lord Weird Slough Feg have a pretty unique sound (and name). I've listened to a few tracks off of their earlier albums and it seems on 'Traveller' they have moved on to something totally different. The only bands I could really compare them to before this would be either Cirith Ungol or Manilla Road. On 'Traveller', they have moved on to a more melodic straight-forward sound that is hard-hitting and at the same time very epic.
If you've seen the cover art for 'Traveller', you may be confused with it. Let me say that this is a concept album based around a Sci-Fi adventure role-playing game of the same title. It's kind of hard to describe the concept of the game and all it entails. The story basically involves the human race and a race of dogmen and their intergalactic adventures. There's quite a long story about it in the back of the booklet, but it's very complicated and it would take me at least an hour to type out. Do you want an easier way to find out what I'm talking about? Search day and night for this album and not only will you get your answer as to what the concept of 'Traveller' is, but you're be treating yourself to some of the most catchy and melodic classic sounding metal that has come out in the last five years.
Now, as far as the music goes on here, the album kicks off with a larger-than-life crushing intro that sets the tone for the entire album. The first thing you'll notice is the crystal-clear production that is very pleasing considering the production jobs on the last couple of albums they've recorded.The next track 'High Passage/Low Passage' is a great, uplifting start. Near the end of this track during the last lead, they add some phaser gun effects and it really makes you feel as if you're flying through space blowing the evil dogmen to oblivion. Needless to say after that description, the music on here is very picture-esque and convokes a lot of different moods. One thing to be noted though, is that at all times the music remains uplifting and positive. There's no sadness here at all. It's always very glorious and triumphant. 'Professor's Theme' is probably my favorite track off of the album. It has a very twisted feel to it at times. Another highlight of the album would have to be the track 'Gene-ocide' which is probably the most reminiscent of this band's earlier works. The final track 'Addendum Galactus' has agreat Judas Priest/Iron Maiden style intro that sets the stage for the final moments of this masterpiece.
It's really hard to get into more detail about this album. Every moment on it is exciting and memorable and fun. It almost seems at times like a soundtrack to an epic Sci-Fi movie. Again, it doesn't have any negative moments at all and at the same time it remains one of the most metal albums I've heard in awhile. If I didn't do a very good job describing this, then I think I've done my job. It is absolutely necessary that you seek this album out and experience yourself and draw your own conclusions of it. Perfection.
I can admit, I'm not a huge fan of Power Metal or Doom Metal. But, this completely blew me away. I didn't even know what I was getting into. Slough Feg incorporate lots of different elements into their music, including Folk and Doom, and some Heavy Metal stuff. I like the transitions, especially, between the slow parts and fast parts. The album has a very medieval feeling, but the interesting thing is that it is now more space-oriented than their older releases. The story has something to do with the Vargr race, and how the humans (or whatever the band or narrator's race is) race created them, and how they are running rampant all of a sudden.
The album contains some nice openings such as "Gene Ocide", and "Vargr Moon". The best tracks are "Curse Of Humaniti", "The Final Gambit", and "Professor's Theme".
Riffs are very solid throughout. Some good lead riffs on "Professor's Theme" and "Vargr Theme: Confrontation". Solos are very good, also, being very non-pretentious and well made.
Drums are very simple and fit the songs well. Some drumming is like marching and some is just very simple army sounding drums. The vocals, also, are very well done. I enjoy the vocal styling very well and hope they continue to use it in further albums. It is soaring at times, and subdued at others, creating a very varied pattern.
Overall, if you're a fan of epic power metal, or doom at ALL, get this. You won't be disappointed.