St. Paul, Minnesot'as True Metal Record Store (RIP as of Dec. 24, 2015)
To give you an idea what I’m working with: for this review, I procured the CD through non-free means because I was looking forward to it so goddarned much. Thanks for nothing Metal Blade. Except for paying for the musicians’ studio time, probably including minor royalties in the contract, pressing and packaging the album, distributing it and promoting it. Thanks for nothing.
Also: trying not to out-irony myself with my actions in deference to the album title and concept. Self-awareness is important. So is buying records, sometimes.
In three words: Literate and folk-rich.
What kills: You know SLOUGH FEG right? No? A bit of a cult name, though a release on Metal Blade shows their star finally seems to be rising after almost 25 years. Their career has been hindered by some aesthetic missteps, such as having THE LORD WEIRD originally appended to the name, a comic-book style of presentation that can appear less than sincere, and a traditional heavy metal career kickstarted in the midst of that genre’s absolute nadir.
Put all that aside for now. I’m typically the last person to say this, but SLOUGH FEG are one those bands that needs to be heard before a complete blow-off is appropriate. Do you like NWOBHM, 70s rock, dual harmonies, spirited leads, tasty fucking licks, rock-cutter drumming, professorial and conceptual lyrics? Covered. Do you like sea-shanties and nasal, everyman crooning? Perhaps not so much, but the combination has to be heard first and it’s implicit wisdom questioned later, if ever. Trust me, they get it done.
For what it’s worth, Digital Resistance is shorter on the firebrand riff-bending and longer on the contemplative, dreary and (curse word) softer atmospheres. But. But! They’ve tightened up their intra- and inner-song transitions and streamlined the broader flow; what once felt jagged is now like fine marble. Melodically it sits atop the same pedestals. Very little stands out as anything other than SLOUGH FEG tradition, and they should be congratulated for it.
What rots: What rots immediately is I’m still grasping this one, so my review should be considered transient, but honest as always. That I’m still thinking about a SLOUGH FEG disc after several honest listens is far from unusual; my relationship with this band has been to slow-roast until I find myself humming the melodies inappropriately and finally getting it. And it works EVERY TIME, with apologies to work, my mother, favorite bar and whatever or whomever else I’ve subjected to my reckless humming.
Yes, even with Digital Resistance, which I was wont to dismiss as too soft upon first listen. Again: every time. That said, being a metalhead, jackoff or whatever you call me, I do miss a bit of the old proverbial slaps in the face from the pure fucking metal of it all. It’s not that their weren’t tracks in the SLOUGH FEG back catalog that strayed significantly from METAL, but this one feels more systemically written around just those sorts of alternative flavors. This may be a new direction entirely, or the band could surprise us with the next one just the same. At this point, I trust their judgment.
What matters: You’re going to get something to think about here. Very little pretense and nothing else asked of you. I think you can handle it, and it’s worth it.
Disclaimer: I work at a record store so I’m totally biased! None of my reviews are to be believed, positive or negative.
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