For almost two decades, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, or Slough Feg for short, have carved out a niche amongst die-hard metal fans for their folk-flavored heavy metal, with a pinch of power metal for that spicy taste. While never quite reaching the ears of the mainstream, Slough Feg has been an underground favorite since their 1996 self-titled debut. The brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi, who is the only original member left, Slough Feg has progressed over the years into a hybrid of Iron Maiden circa 1980, Thin Lizzy, and Judas Priest on an Elvenking binge.
Slough Feg’s seventh studio album, Ape Uprising, is one of grandiose epics and quick furies of NWOBHM-tinged head-bangers. The band does not waste any time, with little to no filler, a criticism of their past albums. While Slough Feg would put 12-14 tracks on previous albums, Ape Uprising has only eight. This helps to crack down on the over-usage of instrumentals and interludes that plagued their early output. With a simpler approach to their music, Slough Feg enchants the listener from the opening minute until the bitter-sweet end some 37 minutes later.
Slough Feg has been known to incorporate many different genres into their sound and the band has a few tricks up their sleeve, as the first track “The Hunchback Of Notre Doom” is a slow, stumbling giant of doomy proportions. The band seems to be at ease with this tempo. While it is nothing more than a one-off experiment, save for a brief reprise on “Ape Outro,” Slough Feg pulls it off in style.
The rest of the album continues in the style of 2007’s Hardworlder, only more tightly reigned in and focused. This is no more apparent than with the tracks on the second half, where the band is able to pack a wallop into three short minutes. Songs like “Overborn” and “Shakedown At The 6” have an upbeat and catchy vibe that just digs into your brain and doesn’t let go.
Their folk side takes a bit of a backseat on Ape Uprising, but it peaks its head out on the acoustic ditty “White Cousin.” The most surprising track is the astonishing title track, which is, without a shadow of a doubt, Slough Feg’s masterpiece; their own “Hallowed Be Thy Name” or “Master Of Puppets.” The track starts out in an anthem-like direction, drenched in the sweat of 80’s British metal, before dissolving into a five-minute plus jam, complete with duel leads and harmonies that would make Adrian Smith and Dave Murray shed a tear of joy.
Speaking of guitar work, the team of Scalzi and Angelo Tringali has a strong chemistry that elevates Ape Uprising into a whole-new stratosphere. Along with Mark Hoffmann and Nate Perry, of Bible Of The Devil fame, Scalzi and Tringali are one of the most underrated guitar duos in metal today. While the rhythm section has talent in its ranks and does get their chance to shine, especially with the stellar bass work on the title track, there is no doubt that this is the Scalzi and Tringali Show, a situation the two of them take full advantage of. This is Tringali’s second album with Slough Feg and he has really brought out the best in Scalzi.
Ape Uprising is a time warp, a relic from a period where metal was exciting and full of fresh sounds and hungry bands. It’s a little loose and sloppy, but that is where the charm of Ape Uprising truly lies. Slough Feg has released album after album of quality material, and Ape Uprising is no different. While there are no inherently negative flaws with Ape Uprising, the track listing should have been slightly adjusted. Putting the title track third was a misstep, as that song is just so powerful that the rest of the material doesn’t hold a candle to it, a shame considering that the second half of the album has several top-notch tracks. For fans of Slough Feg, or those longing for the days where denim jackets with Venom and Angel Witch patches were cool, Ape Uprising is another slam-dunk in a discography seemingly filled with them.
Label: Cruz Del Sur Music
Web Site: http://www.myspace.com/sloughfeg
By Dan Marsicano