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Metal in its purest form - 90%

DeathBySuicide, August 3rd, 2013

"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.