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Metal Blade – Out Now.

There isn’t a single person I know who’s into underground classic Metal (and believe me when I say I know quite a few people so inclined), who hasn’t tried at some point or another to get me hooked on the music of the American quartet Slough Feg.

I have seen the band live twice so far in my life and, on both occasions, I did enjoy and appreciate how they conducted themselves on stage but somehow they didn’t manage to quite excite my imagination…until now, that is!

It took twenty four years and a studio album entitled “Digital Resistance” to get me to figure these guys out but now I can finally claim to understand what the fuss has been all about.

Slough Feg are hardly what one can describe as an average Heavy Metal band. It is true that, like most of their compatriots, their main influences come from the NWOBHM scene and especially bands like Iron Maiden but the inclusion of Folk elements in their structurally challenging compositions and the indulgence in a powerful late 70s sound that owes a lot to bands like UFO and Thin Lizzy in terms of inspiration makes the end result come across as both unique and mysterious.

Michael Scalzi, the band’s front man and sole founding member, may not possess the most wide-range of voices but his passionate performances adds much character to the ten composition on offer, while drummer extraordinaire Harry Cantwell is responsible for the addition of much power and bombast. Now, let me explain why you really need to get your hands on this album…

“Analogue Avengers/Bertrand’s Russell’s Sex Den” offers an interesting introduction to the album through a 70s Folk-influenced guitar melody and atmospheric key tunes and offers no clues whatsoever about the surge of energy that’s coming your way.

Kicking off with an impressive array of drum beats and featuring a massive Thin Lizzy/Iron Maiden sounding riff and a vocal melody in its chorus that will make your hair stand on end, “Digital Resistance” is one of the most passionate Heavy Metal anthems I have heard in years – a real classic in the making.

Based on a western-styled steel guitar riff, “Habeas Corpus” is a totally different beast but no less impressive in comparison, while the duet “Magic Hooligan”/”Ghastly Appendage” brings more of the band’s UFO/Maiden/Lizzy influences to the surface.

The second half of the album starts in a glorious fashion as “Laser Enforcer” is a four minute track filled with attitude, clever riffage and a vocal melody to die for. Melodic vocals and some much welcomed crunchy/groovy guitar themes characterise both “Curriculum Vitae” and “The Luddite”, while “Warriors Dusk” gives justice to its name by providing the listener with a commanding epic guitar riff, adorned by Michael Scalzi’s passionate vocals.

The problem with most underground classic-sounding Metal bands is that they often fall into the trap of sounding quite like their heroes but this certainly doesn’t apply to Slough Feg.

Even though their love for bands like Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy is both clearly audible and totally undeniable, the quartet has enough talent and personality to present the listener with something that feels both familiar and exciting – a balance very difficult for any band to strike these days.

“Digital Resistance” is, simply said, one hell of an album – make sure that you check it out, pronto!

John Stefanis

Rating: ****1/2 (4.5/5.0)

 

 

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