More an acquaintance in name than sound in the ears here at The RR, Slough Feg has been a presence tempting attention over recent years but never quite drawing it their way. That has now certainly changed with the band’s new album Digital Resistance; the release an irresistible charge of rock and metal which has triggered our thirst to truly investigate previous encounters leading up to this latest triumph. With songs taking a look at technology’s effect on society and life, the Metal Blade Records released album again explores Slough Fegs’s unique blend of Celtic Folk and Traditional Metal with magnetic potency. There is admittedly a constant familiarity to the sounds which rather than disappoints simply coaxes out a greater appetite for the propositions, but holding an energy and adventure which easily fires up the imagination and emotions, the album is one virulently contagious endeavour.
With a name derived from a character in ancient Irish mythology brought to life via UK comic 2000AD, the Central Pennsylvania hailing and since San Francisco based Slough Feg has consistently lit up the metal world since certainly their debut self-titled album of 1996. Under the moniker The Lord Weird Slough Feg at first, until 2005 when they shortened the name for fourth album Atavism, the band continued to evolve their sound and reputation with albums such as Hardworlder in 2007 and Ape Uprising! two years later. It is easy to suspect that the band has never been a towering enticement for every metallic taste, ours alone finding excuses or distractions to never really immerse in their undoubted excellently crafted and passionate sounds, but as the successor to the acclaimed 2010 album The Animal Spirits rampages with incendiary might in the passions, you realise it was to our certain loss.
Recorded with Justin Weis, who co-produced the release with vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi, Digital Resistance immediately stirs up thoughts and excitement with opener Analogue Avengers / Bertrand Russell’s Sex Den. Instantly the impressive vocals of Scalzi are invading the ears alongside imagination tempting keys and guitar speared by energy inciting rhythms. It is a romping temptation which within seconds brings thoughts of Horslips to the fore though with a more subtle Celtic wrap to its thrilling invitation. The song continues to run with the senses until seamlessly slipping into a slower emotive embrace which grips just as enthrallingly, keys and guitars crafting a melodic web to wrap the rich rhythmic bait. It is a riveting and exciting start soon elevated with the fiery dynamics of the title track. Once again, and to be honest within every track, the rhythmic patterns, skill, and temptation provided by drummer Harry Cantwell is scintillating with a virulence for the passions which is immeasurable and alongside the darker throaty tones of bass from Adrian Maestas, the pair provide the strongest exploratory heartbeat and shadows to drive the persuasion of songs. The track itself weaves around the imagination with a rich fascination sculpted by the guitars of Scalzi and Angelo Tringali, their sonic and melodic designs seductively clasping the lyrical and vocal narrative.
The outstanding start to the album continues with the excellent Habeas Corpsus, its opening sultry Western climate around an imposing rhythmic provocation drawing thoughts to imagine dust filled climes and black dressed undertakers waiting for their next gunslinger sparked job. The melodramatic intensity to the song brings a mix of Helldorado meets Hammers of Misfortune to thoughts whilst the almost smothering production to the song, especially around the vocals, just intensifies the thick breath of the solemn scenery.
Both the Thin Lizzy-esque Magic Hooligan with again a healthy dose of a rawer Horslips adding to its irrepressible bait and Ghastly Appendage with its delicious gothic theatre, keep the passions raging with greed and pleasure whilst the heavy metal/hard rock merger of Laser Enforcer brings another lick of the lips around an eager appetite even if with not quite the same intense reactions found elsewhere on the album. As always though even when songs slip a little below the early pace and level the quite dazzling rhythmic alchemy of Cantwell steals an ardour its way whilst bassist Maestas, most notably in the third of this trio, unleashes a presence and snarl to his invention which instinctively stirs up a pleasure to stand tall alongside the satisfaction cast by the guitars and vocals.
The Price Is Nice is another striking highlight of the album, the song pushing recognisable yet indefinable lures and hooks in its stalking presence as Scalzi deliver words with his excellent dusty almost growling tones. As with many songs either rhythmically or in riffery, there is an ensnaring repetition to the song which in other’s hands may seem limiting but from Slough Feg only increases the creative mesh to get caught up in. The following Curriculum Vitae is the same, a pulsating unrelenting torrent of rhythmic pressuring often a singular surge of intent but as magnetic as the sun. The song as its successor The Luddite, does not impact on and raise the emotions as potently and forcibly as previous tracks, though neither do the pair leave satisfaction and fun lacking a square meal, but there just is not the fuse to the imagination and passions as offered from the rest of the album even if musical craft and invention is as undeniable as ever.
The closing Warrior’s Dusk unveils another Western twang to the guitars to intrigue thoughts within an otherwise full bodied presence with medieval folk adventure and melodic flames all brewed in a heavy metal vat. It is a fine finish to an excellent album, one which maybe was unexpected due to our poor attention to the band previously but a release providing one of the most enjoyable and easy to recommend albums this year so far.
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