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Rock opera perfection! - 100%

Bahamut7, August 23rd, 2010

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!