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The Beginning of a Beautiful Career - 91%

DrOctavia, May 10th, 2007

Wow. That’s really the first word that comes to mind when I think of how to describe the sheer quality of this album, and the mastery of the band that created it. But for the sake of this review, I shall endeavor to describe just how this album manages to continuously conjure that one simple, yet endlessly expressive word to my brain, time and time again. The debut album from the underground (and we’re talking some truly subterranean depths here) band, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, is a riveting mix of Celtic overtones, originality and killer musicianship.

From the opening intensity of “Shadows of the Unborn”, you can see that these guys are no slouches with their respective instruments, and that this band has also had quite a bit of experience working together long before releasing their first LP. This track smacks of some obvious Maiden influence (far from a bad thing) and makes an apt exhibition of Mike Scalzi’s impressive, catchy vocals. Great lyrics abound as well, lines such as “The sun is just a mocking star” (spat out with a certain contemptuous tone, reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson’s memorable vocals) and the catchy chorus are great fare for Scalzi’s memorable singing.

The band also has quite a few moments where they display their technical prowess, such as “Blarney Stone”, an instrumental composed of lightning-fast guitar licks. But it’s far from a display of blatant, ego-flattering wankery a la Dragonforce. Instead, like each song on the album, it possesses its own distinctive flavor, for even amidst the frantic guitar work, there is still that laid-back, almost sloppy approach that actually serves to make this band’s work so endearing.

Even at this point in their career, that inspired epic quality that has become a staple of their music manifests itself here, particularly in the Irish folk flavored “Red Branch”. There are even a couple of thematic changes in these songs, as “Red Branch” goes from a positively upbeat piece of Celtic folk metal, into a heavier affair for its finale.

Also on both versions of the album, are the two closing chapters of the “High Season” saga. For whatever reason, Slough Feg decided to put these in reverse chronological order, so parts one and two can be found on the two succeeding albums (unless you managed to acquire the 2002 reissue of this album). Should you need any more reason to pick up Slough Feg’s later albums, this series should provide you with one. Both tracks are excellent on their own, from the captivating introduction of “High Season III” to the superb vocal maneuvers of “High Season IV” there is no room left for disappointment. But when combined in their proper sequence, from parts I-IV, these songs truly shine. As the sorrowful, introspective end of part one segues into the lyrical resonance of the second chapter, and so on into the aforementioned parts three and four, the songs all unite both musically and lyrically. From a lyrical standpoint, the series would seem to be about the rise of a creature akin to Lucifer, as suggested by lines such as “I was cast from heaven/ rather be free in hell” and “I’ve taken earth today and now tomorrow, heaven”. But regardless of the story, this epic and memorable saga testifies to the impressive songwriting skill of Slough Feg.

Overall, this is an extremely solid album, from a band that would go on to release many more gems in their career. This was the first LP where the wider world got a taste of this one-of-a-kind band, and it was worth waiting for. Unfortunately, this is also the hardest Slough Feg release to find, despite being re-released within recent memory. It is well worth the hunt however, buy it, download it, whatever; just get your hands on it! This is an album that is tragically overlooked, by a band that more people need to know about. If you’re a fan of traditional, power, doom, folk – any kind of metal really – you should not pass this up!