Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The Lord Weird Slough Feg – New Organon (2019) / 85%

3 AM bag of cheese

Slough Feg or The Lord Weird Slough Feg (they went back to their old moniker apparently) has always been one of my favorite bands ever seen I discovered their sixth album, the excellent Hardworlder back in 2007. I even got the artwork of Traveller tattooed on my forearm to show my dedication to their craft... Even if the troubadours lead by main songwriter, singer and guitarist Mike Scalzi have been churning good albums (The Animal Spirits in particular), they were never able to reach the heights of Down Among The Deadman, Traveller, Atavism or the aforementioned Hardworlder.

Fifteen years ago, the Feg were the best heavy metal band in America. They have some hefty competition nowadays with bands like Demon Bitch, Magic Circle but I’m sure they still have the tools to go back up there.

After a brief stint with Metal Blade, the band is back with Italy’s Cruz Del Sur for their first album in half a decade. With New Organon, they decided to go back to their roots or at the least the idea behind their roots. It took them a while to gather a new collection of songs, it seems they were a bit lost and confused about the direction to take after the divisive (that’s what I personally gathered as far as opinions are concerned) Digital Resistance.

My first impressions were that New Organon was taking the sound developed on Digital Resistance, Ape Uprising and mixed it with their early 2000s releases. It works well and I was glad to hear the dual lead guitars of Scalzi and Angelo Tringali. At times, it seemed like a toned down version of their heavier classics and well, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not a surprising album though, they’re playing it safe most of the times, except perhaps on “Coming of Age in the Milky Way”. It’s a slow, medieval folky singalong song with hints of Queen and Rush combined with their usual Thin Lizzy genuflections. The best track on the album, for sure. Furthermore, bassist Adrian Maestas sings the lead vocals on “Uncanny” and this was also a pleasant surprise. It has a classic rock flair and it’s less gruff and semi-operatic than Mike’s approach.

I think it took me almost three years to enjoy Digital Resistance despite the fact that it’s a pretty immediate album. On the other hand, I liked this one immediately. There's the right balance of all their elements. Slough Feg has the tendency to write blistering but deep compositions about history or geeky but manly odes to philosophy and it’s still the case here. Scalzi explores Francis Bacon’s major work Novum Organum throughout the ten muscular songs of the album. Feg’s intellectual nature is hidden underneath a thick layer of meat, potatoes, butter and cheddar. It’s tasty and nutritive. It feeds your heart and soul with riffs and deep thoughts.

My desires for new Feg albums are somewhat impossible to accomplish at this point. I’d like longer, epic songs for some unfathomable reasons since the band never did this. I’m sure they’d be good at them though so I guess that’s why I have this fetish. I know they'll never do another Traveller and I have to live with this for the rest of my life...

With New Organon we see the band go back to their primal sound and sure, some metal oomph is back but the aggressiveness and the memorability of old is lacking. With that said, Slough Feg are still better than most at what they do and their riffing skills are still up there with the greats. I was preparing myself to that release for a while now and I went back to their whole catalogue. I think it’s a bit unfair to compare it to older works but I mean, I’m petty like that. We don't compare Iron Maiden's contemporary works to Powerslave... Outside of some more forgettable numbers such as “The Cynic”, it’s a pretty even album without any overly apparent weaknesses.

All in all, if you’ve heard a Slough Feg album, you know what to expect here. Or do you? Yeah, you probably do even if they’re “back” with one of their older sounds. Duel lead guitars, soaring solos, Scalzi instantly recognizable rough but classy vocal tantrums. If you don't know Slough Feg, this could be a good place to start, to be honest. You'll just need to warn your neighbors when you'll explore their older albums.

The whole album is fueled by hard hitting riffs such as on “Discourse On Equality” and curvy thunderous leads by level 20 bards. It's a shame that drummer Harry Cantwell (Bosse-de-Nage) is gone but newcomer Jeff Griffin does an acceptable job

Slough Feg are the equivalent of the bag of shredded cheddar in the fridge when you’re hungry at 3 am, you’ll always go back to it even if you know what to expect. If you’re lucky, you can find some really thick chunks. This album slaps and has a good amount of chunky riffs. Definitely the best air guitar album of 2019.

Oh, I'm also very stoked to see them for the first time in June.

Out late June on Cruz Del Sur Music