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Smooth music that rocks - 25%

caspian, February 16th, 2011

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.