Review & Track Premiere: The Lord Weird Slough Feg, New Organon

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the lord weird slough feg new organon

[Click play above to stream ‘Headhunter’ from The Lord Weird Slough Feg’s New Organon. Album is out June 14 on Cruz Del Sur Music.]

For nigh on 30 years, The Lord Weird Slough Feg have served the greater good as classic metal’s gift to heavy rock. Or are they classic rock’s gift to heavy metal? Or metal’s gift to heavy? Plus Celtic influences? Whatever. The point is, across 10 full-lengths and a swath of other singles and splits, etc., the band have become one-of-a-kind practitioners of the metallic arts. New Organon is the San Francisco-based outfit’s first long-player in the five years since 2014’s Digital Resistance (review here) came out on Metal Blade, and it finds them reunited with Cruz del Sur Music for the first since 2009’s Ape Uprising! and 2007’s Hardworlder. It’s a solid fit, considering Slough Feg‘s traditionalist approach, and New Organon feels like a purposeful stripping down of tones and general vibe. Perhaps unsurprisingly to those familiar with Slough Feg‘s work, that suits the material well.

Across 10 tracks and a LP-prime 37 minutes, the four-piece of founding guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi, fellow guitarist Angelo Tringali, bassist Adrian Maestas — who takes a lead vocal on side B’s “Uncanny” — and relatively-new drummer Jeff Griffin (John Dust also plays on the album), set about renewing the faith of the denim-clad faithful while at the same time mining the lecture notes of Scalzi, a philosophy professor, for lyrical themes. From the Rousseau through Sartre, Plato through Francis Bacon, from whose work the title derives, Scalzi turns cerebral and existential query into the stuff of fist-pumping proto-thrash and heavy rock and roll. It does not seem like a coincidence that they should re-don their full moniker for the effort, having gone simply by Slough Feg since 2005’s Atavism instead of the full The Lord Weird Slough Feg, since the atmosphere in the clear but sans-frills production and the basic structure of the songs is no less directed to the band’s own roots than those of heavy metal itself. They are among the most woefully underappreciated acts in metal, too bizarre it would seem even for the most brazen of self-declared nonconformists, but all the more righteous for standing alone.

“Headhunter,” which opens, is also the longest track at just over five minutes (immediate points), and the band waste no time whatsoever in letting the listener know the order of things. Guitars intertwine in tense riffing for an early verse over tom runs and the chorus bounds through not quite paying off that tension, but driving it forward nonetheless. A post-midsection movement of starts and stops offset by NWOBHM-style lead work — not the last of it to come — leads to a more ripping-style solo and back to the verse telling tales of piles of shrunken heads and so on. It’s a rousing start to New Organon, and it leads to the brooding and likewise tense “Discourse on Equality,” on which the drums time quick stop-start thuds behind matching guitar/bass chug with a lead line sprawled over with the vocals.

slough feg

It is stomach-tightening, and when they finally let go a little bit and blowout consecutive solos in the back half of the track, it’s a palpable relief as, the go-where-they-want mood set, Slough Feg move into “The Apology,” with a creeping verse and a more standout hook, which perhaps is rivaled only by the title-track still to come as the strongest of the record. “Being and Nothingness” follows, and as every Slough Feg review must at some point include a Thin Lizzy reference, there’s mine, but even more striking is the initial thrust of the song’s intro, which emphasizes how well the band ties together thrash and classic heavy rock. New Organon is a dirtier-sounding album than anything Slough Feg have done in some time, and it’s meant to be. They’re digging in and inviting those who can get on board to do the same, but “Being and Nothingness” isn’t about accessibility. Cut short in its solo and giving way directly to the start of the title-track, it’s a moment meant to dangerously careen near the edge of oblivion, and it does that successfully without losing itself in the process, perhaps finding its completion in “New Organon,” with Scalzi donning Bacon’s perspective for the chorus, “The sum of my knowledge will conquer the earth/And the sons of my college will rise/And give birth.” Take that, scientific method of old!

The title-cut rounds out side A with more fervent chug and ripping soloing, squeezing in a last verse effectively amongst the fray, and turns over the proceedings to “Sword of Machiavelli” and an immediate shift in vibe. Slower and more fluid in its groove, it finds Scalzi‘s vocals more laid back and an almost garage-style feel to the drums and tape-worthy guitar. The shortest inclusion at 2:17, it soon gives way to the sharp, early-metal-style “Uncanny,” which brings Maestas into the vocalist role, which is a change that further builds on the signal sent by “Sword of Machiavelli” that the second half of the album represents a shift from the first. That holds true for the swaying strangeness of “Coming of Age in the Milky Way,” taking its title from Timothy Ferris’ 1988 book of the same name.

Near as I can tell, that’s as modern as the philosophy gets on New Organon, which is fair enough, and the more laid back sensibility that accompanies feels like a massive change from the tightened-fist of “Discourse on Equality” and “Headhunter,” turning back to the Thin Lizzyism on “Exegesis/Tragic Hooligan” with acoustic and electric guitars woven together effectively in the chorus, ahead of the fitting summary that is closer “The Cynic,” with one last megadose of soloing amid a roll-credits melody and something of a return to where Slough Feg came from on the first half of the record. Of course they end on a fading guitar ringout — how could they not? — but as ever with the band’s material, there’s more at play throughout New Organon than riffs and leads, and it’s in the less-tangible nature of what they do that one finds their personality. The sound of struggle in Scalzi‘s vocals. The quick turns of bass and drums. The willful way in which they set their own rules and then play at breaking them. The Lord Weird Slough Feg are unique even among classic metal loyalists. I don’t know if they’ll ever get their due for the quality of the work they’ve done over their time, but they’re clearly engaged in a broader conversation.

The Lord Weird Slough Feg website

The Lord Weird Slough Feg on Thee Facebooks

The Lord Weird Slough Feg on Instagram

Cruz del Sur Music website

Cruz del Sur Music on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Lord Weird Slough Feg to Release New Organon in June

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

American traditional metal/heavy rock treasures The Lord Weird Slough Feg will issue their first LP in five years, New Organon, in June through Cruz Del Sur Music. As regards metallic righteousness, there are few of their caliber, and as they re-don their full moniker, having issued 2014’s Digital Resistance (review here) and several other outings before it as the truncated Slough Feb, one can’t help but wonder what that might mean in terms of the sound of the album itself. Certainly the fact that founding guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi is embracing his background in philosophy to greater degree than he has before is an interesting turn, though they’ve never exactly wanted for intellectual appeal. The life of the mind, plus riffs.

I’ll always remember what Bible of the Devil told me about Scalzi when I interviewed them in 2012. They had done some touring together, and because Slough Feg is a band with such character and because I’d never spoken to Scalzi, I asked what he was like. The answer I got was, “he suffers no fools gladly.” To sure, I’ve never had it in me to interview Scalzi since, because if I’ve ever been anything, it’s a fool. Especially on the phone.

Here’s PR wire info for the album. I already put in a request to host a track premiere, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that comes together:

the lord weird slough feg new organon

THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG Returns With First Album In Five Years, ‘New Organon’

“I didn’t want to just ‘put out another album,’” begins SLOUGH FEG vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi. “I remember telling people that I didn’t want to do another album just to do another album, like so often happens. So, we wrote a lot of songs and only picked the best ones.”

Such was the approach for SLOUGH FEG’s long-awaited tenth studio album, New Organon, which will see the light of day via Cruz Del Sur Music on June 14 in European territories and June 21 in North America. New Organon also marks the recording debut of drummer Jeff Griffin (who split studio duties with John Dust) and joins Scalzi and longtime members Angelo Tringali (guitar) and Adrian Maestas (bass).

New Organon is another definitive statement from one of America’s most enduring and unique true metal bands, whose penchant for THIN LIZZY-inspired guitar harmonies and Scalzi’s timeless storytelling has turned albums such as 2005’s Atavism, 2007’s Hardworlder and 2010’s The Animal Spirits into proto-metal bedrocks.

Since the release of 2014’s Digital Resistance, SLOUGH FEG did three touring jaunts through Europe in addition to some shorter American runs, not to mention the release of the New Organon seven-inch, which was issued last year. Scalzi freely admits that real life has gotten in the way of SLOUGH FEG making a new LP. That, and his desire to make sure the band still sounds fresh after nine studio albums. “A lot of stuff ended up on the cutting room floor,” he says. “There were some songs we tried to work out for months but ended up dropping because they bored us. We have to be excited about new songs or there’s no point in recording them. We dropped several songs I came up with and some that the other guys came up with, too. It’s tough, but sometimes you have to be honest with yourself and the people in your band and move on when an idea is not working. So, we came up with a lot of song ideas and only kept the ones that sounded exciting for months.”

In true SLOUGH FEG tradition, there is a strong theme running throughout New Organon, which was inspired by the 1620 book published by Francis Bacon of the same name. “It presents a new version of the scientific method, as originally presented by Aristotle 2,000 years earlier,” notes Scalzi, who is also a philosophy professor at a college in California. “According to Bacon and others, the science method had remained stagnant for this long period, through the middle ages and renaissance, and needed a refresher. ‘Organon’ refers to a scientific ‘instrument’ or more literally, ‘organ.’ So, it represents a new method for scientific revolution. The songs are all basically about philosophy—from my lecture notes! It starts out talking about primitive tribal society like shamanism as the first philosophers and then proceeds though the pre-Socratics era and then Plato, Aristotle, medieval catholic theology, enlightenment and then existentialist philosophy — mostly in chronological order.”

Fans of the band’s early output when they went under the extended name of THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG will no doubt be enthused for what’s in store on New Organon. The album has a more natural, if not “rustic” feel to it, recalling the band’s halcyon Twilight Of The Idols and Down Among The Deadmen era. “Very simply, the songs are more heavy, rough and produced rawer than the last album or two,” says Scalzi. “The themes are not about technology, but about ancient philosophy and science. It’s just more metal, but in a very primitive way — but that’s sort of our specialty anyway.”

Around the release date of New Organon, SLOUGH FEG will be trekking across the United States with labelmates SANHEDRIN. “We’ll be doing ten shows on the east coast in late May/early June, right about the time when the album comes out, including New York, Boston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh,” says Scalzi. “In early August, SANHEDRIN is going to come out we’ll do another run with them up and down the west coast.”

Track Listing:
1 Headhunter
2 Discourse on Equality
3 The Apology
4 Being and Nothingness
5 New Organon
6 Sword of Machiavelli
7 Uncanny
8 Coming of Age in the Milky Way
9 Exegesis/Tragic Hooligan
10 The Cynic

SLOUGH FEG/SANHEDRIN Tour Dates:
May 30 – Baltimore, MD, Metro Gallery
May 31- Brooklyn, NY, Saint Vitus
June 1- Montreal, QC, Bar LeRitz
June 2 – Ottawa, ON, Mavericks
June 3 – Toronto, ON, Velvet Underground
June 4 – Pittsburgh, PA, Spirit
June 5 – Detroit, MI, Sanctuary
June 6 – Cleveland, OH, Now That’s Class
June 7 – Philadelphia, PA, Kung Fu Necktie
June 8 – Boston, MA, Middle East

http://www.sloughfeg.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sloughfegofficial/
https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/blog/
https://www.facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic/
https://twitter.com/cruzdelsurmusic
https://cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com/

Slough Feg, Digital Resistance (2014)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Slough Feg Announce The New Organon Recording; Re-Sign to Cruz del Sur

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Maybe that’s just how long a Slough Feg record takes to absorb, but it’s kind of surprising to think it’s been three years since the perennial San Fran-based NWOBHM-via-Celtic-folk-via-classic-rock-via-you-don’t-know-what-the-hell-to-call-it-so-just-call-it-progressive outfit released Digital Resistance (review here). That album was their ninth as well as their debut release for Metal Blade Records, and along with the news that the Mike Scalzi-led troupe either will begin or have begun this month to record their 10th long-player, to be titled The New Organon, comes word that said offering will be issued via Cruz del Sur, with whom the band was previously signed for three highlight LPs between 2005 and 2009.

Too strange for the bigger imprint to know what to do with? Possible. Or possible it was just a one record deal. In any case, it was four years from 2010’s The Animal Spirits (review here), which was released by Profound Lore, to Digital Resistance, so even if The New Organon doesn’t show up until 2018, that would at least be on pace. Good food takes time, even if you don’t realize time has passed.

From the PR wire:

slough feg

SLOUGH FEG Rejoins CRUZ DEL SUR MUSIC

San Francisco true metal troubadours SLOUGH FEG have rejoined Italy’s Cruz Del Sur Music, the label behind the band’s heralded “Atavism” (2005), “Hardworlder” (2007) and “Ape Uprising!” (2009) albums.

Comments vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi: “We are happy to announce that we are back with Cruz Del Sur Music and will begin recording a new album in July! We believe that a smaller ’boutique’ label such as Cruz Del Sur is appropriate for our sound, fanbase and work ethic, and look forward to working with Enrico [Leccese] and company again.”

“I am extremely excited to have SLOUGH FEG back on Cruz Del Sur!” says Leccese. “It is always nice when bands you like track you down. It’s even more special when it’s someone you’ve worked with for about ten years and established a friendly relationship. It’s a recognition that we were doing something right in the past. I can’t wait to hear the new album and share it with the metal world.”

Continues Scalzi: “The new album will be called ‘The New Organon’, and the songs are somewhat of a return to the heavier side of our sound: more rustic, heavy, churning, medieval/Celtic and proggy sounding riffs, as opposed to the more ’70s rock sounds of more recent albums. But don’t worry: there will be a couple of rockers as well! We will also have some newer, experimental songwriting styles, mixing heavy rock and metal with the melodic sounds of ’50s and ’60s pop. Imagine DEL SHANNON singing for BLUE CHEER! After all, it wouldn’t be a SLOUGH FEG album without some bizarre surprises!

So, journey we more into the vaults of the Voi-vaudevillian…the Epic-cure for all Epicurean Angst and Ennui. The Celtic cacophony continues!”

www.facebook.com/sloughfegofficial
twitter.com/slough_feg
www.cruzdelsurmusic.com
cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic
twitter.com/CruzDelSurMusic

Slough Feg, Live at Muskelrock 2016

Tags: , , , , , ,

San Francisco Trip, Pt. 3: The Calling

Posted in Buried Treasure, Features on July 16th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

aquarius records

07.15.15 — 10:10PM Pacific — Wed. night — Hotel California (yes, really)

It occurred to me this evening that I’ve had about two and a half hours of “free time” on this trip and I’ve spent it all record shopping. That’s not a complaint, but I’ve had people offer to meet up and stuff and I haven’t quite had the time I anticipated for such things between work obligations and writing at night. Again, I’m not complaining. I’ve worked for a company for less than two months that’s willing to fly my ass quite literally across a continent and trust me to represent them to the best of my admittedly limited ability at a meeting of potential clients and professional cohorts. I’m remarkably fortunate to be here. I’m also very, very tired.

Still, when it came to it, and I had that little bit of time to spare today, I jumped in the first cab that I saw with its light on and told the dude to make for Aquarius Records. It was payday and I had an itch that only another round of record shopping was going to scratch. I probably could have gone back to Amoeba Music and found more stuff in that giant space, but the smaller, curated vibe of Aquarius was just my speed this evening.

I took my time, thumbed through the CD racks of the San Francisco section, the rock/pop, the metal sections both new and used, eyed up some stuff in the boxes under the used section — two albums by Mammoth Volume there, but I have them already — and reminded myself that between yesterday and today, this has kind of become my celebration of returning to the working world, so yeah, I splurged a bit. I picked up a thing or two that on some other days I might have let go, decided to let it ride and be what it is. The fact that it was also payday might have been a factor. That’s a question for hindsight and I don’t have the proper distance to evaluate.

The haul? Here it is, once more alphabetically:

Aarni, Bathos
Across Tundras, Old World Wanderer
Bedemon, Child of Darkness
Carlton Melton, Out to Sea
Children of Doom, Ride over the Green Valley
Elder, Spires Burn/Release
Elder, Lore
Evil Acidhead, In the Name of all that is Unholy
Holy Serpent, Holy Serpent
Pyramido, Sand
Pyramido, Saga
Slough Feg, Made in Poland
The Warlocks, The Warlocks
White Hills, So You Are… so You’ll Be

aqurius records haulOnce again, all CDs. I know it’s not as cool as vinyl, but fuck it. If any of you vinyl hounds want to sell me your CD collection, let me know. I’ll buy that shit. I’ll be the last dude on earth buying CDs for all I care. Whatever. They’re still making them for the most part, so yeah, I’ll still buy them.

The find of the bunch is probably that self-titled EP by The Warlocks, which came out in 2000 on Bomp! Records and was their debut. It was used and cheap, so that was cool. Two of the bunch I already own, but the Across Tundras was also about $5 and the Bedemon is the newer Relapse Records version, so I figured what the hell. True, I was here last year and stopped by the shop when I was out on tour with the Kings Destroy guys — SF resident Jim Pitts included, while I’m thinking of good people I haven’t had the chance to see — but it’s not something I do every day. I pick up things here and there, mostly online at this point, so to actually be in a store and have the chance to browse and enjoy the process, I wanted to do precisely that.

I know Carlton Melton are local to NorCal, so I grabbed that seeing it on the counter by the register, and Evil Acidhead was one of the staff recommendations — if you ever go to Aquarius Records, pay attention; these people know what they’re talking about — and since I knew it’s a reissue of old recordings by John McBain (Monster Magnet, Wellwater Conspiracy) it seemed like one to grab. Both of those Elder discs I have on vinyl, but I wanted the CDs, and while it would make the most sense to go to Armageddon Shop one of the apparently multiple times of a week I drive past Providence on I-95 and pick them up there, I haven’t actually managed to make that happen. Seeing an opportunity, I took it.

Slough Feg‘s 2011 live record, Made in Poland, was used, so that was a no-brainer, and I ran into both Pyramido albums — their first, Sand, used and a buck, their third, 2013’s Saga, new — on opposite sides of the store and picked them up almost independently of each other, hesitating but ultimately nabbing the recently-reviewed self-titled from Holy Serpent because, fuck it, it’s a RidingEasy release and I don’t see that every day in a store. The White Hills was used and I grabbed it thinking of their set at Roadburn this year and how underappreciated they are generally — not that my buying a disc makes up for that, but you know what I mean.

Two purchases I went into completely blind: the Aarni and Children of Doom. Aarni is a one-man Finnish outfit for whom Bathos served as a debut full-length in 2004, and knowing nothing about it, I saw the cover was all mushrooms and that it was on the Firedoom Music label — actually it’s the first release on the label; catalog number FDOOM001 — so I assumed I would be getting something Finnish, strange and doomed, and sure enough that’s how it’s played out so far. French trio Children of Doom‘s self-released 2009 debut EP, Ride over the Green Valley, won me over both for its cover art and for the written-out description of the album, which rightly compared its tones to namesake act Saint Vitus. I hear a bit of Ice Dragon‘s swaggering fuckall in there as well. No complaints. The band’s debut LP, Doom, Be Doomed, ör Fuck Off, came out in 2011, but if Aquarius had it, it wasn’t in my line of sight.

Back to the hotel after to start writing and get my head around the day. I ate the same thing I had for dinner last night — flautas from the taqueria across the street — while checking email to try and keep up on that. As one might expect, it didn’t really work. Still, at least if I have to be behind on absolutely everything, at least I managed to pick up some good records in the process.

I fly out tomorrow night late on a redeye to Boston that gets in Friday morning. The only way to travel. Maybe it’ll also be five hours delayed and turn into a morning flight. Haven’t slept at an airport in a while anyway.

Children of Doom, “Hangover”

Aquarius Records website

Aquarius Records on Thee Facebooks

Aquarius Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hoverfest 2015 Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 18th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Can’t say it’s much of a surprise, but the lineup for Hoverfest 2015 looks pretty awesome. The second installment of the annual fest brought together by Hovercraft Amps, Cravedog and Nanotear is set for an all-dayer Aug. 8 in Portland, Oregon, and like last year, the lineup of acts is made up mostly of locals — there are a few to choose from in Portland these days — and to go with all that hometown spirit, they’ll bring in San Francisco kings of weirdo trad metal Slough Feg to headline.

Slough Feg will sit atop a mighty Portlander grouping, varied between the doomly ways of Witch Mountain, who make a return appearance, a return as well for the ’70s heavy of Danava, Lord Dying‘s don’t-tell-anybody-it’s-death-metal-because-we-like-playing-with-stoner-bands genrebending, Sons of Huns on the heels of their new album, While Sleeping Stay Awake, a second showing from Holy Grove, and first-timers Zirakzigil and Mane of the Cur to lead things off. Sounds like a good time to me.

Last year, Billy Anderson was brought on to work the mixer, and whether or not he’ll make another appearance has yet to be revealed, but the preliminaries are out. With presumably more to come, here they are:

hoverfest 2015

Cravedog Presents HOVERFEST 2015

Cravedog, Hovercraft Amps, and Nanotear Booking have teamed up to bring the second annual HOVERFEST on Saturday 8.8.15 in Portland, OR

The rocks starts at noon and rolls til sundown. Once again set in the alley behind Cravedog with the gorgeous sunset view of the Fremont Bridge. 611 N. Tillamook Street

This year will be 21+ so the whole alley is a beer garden.

Rock, metal, and doom all day long from:

SLOUGH FEG
WITCH MOUNTAIN
DANAVA
LORD DYING
SONS OF HUNS
HOLY GROVE
ZIRAKZIGIL
MANE OF THE CUR

Tickets go on sale Friday 6.19 at 10am PST.
www.brownpapertickets.com

https://www.facebook.com/events/1106747122671942/
www.cravedog.com
www.hovercraftamps.com
www.nanotear.com

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Slough Feg Welcome New Drummer Addison Filipczyk

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 3rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

It seems worth pointing out that, at 25 years old, new Slough Feg drummer Addison Filipczyk was likely born around the same time the band was first getting together and putting out early demo material in 1990. One could blather about the San Francisco troupe’s metal longevity, but frankly, if you don’t get it, the point’s lost. Former drummer Harry Cantwell played with the band following the release of Hardworlder in 2007 and could most recently be heard on last year’s Digital Resistance (review here), Slough Feg‘s ninth full-length and debut on Metal Blade Records.

What Filipczyk‘s contributions might bring to the band remains to be seen since he hasn’t yet played his first show with them — April 16 in San Fran; info’s below — but there’s reportedly a European tour currently being booked for May and June, so it doesn’t seem like it’ll be that long until we find out. As Scalzi notes, he’s down for upholding the prime directive, and that’s always a good start.

To the PR wire, friends:

slough feg

Metal Blade Recording Artist Slough Feg Announce New Drummer

Now Booking European Tour Dates For May/June 2015

Slough Feg is proud to announce the arrival of new drummer, Addison Filipczyk. Filipczyk, 25, will have big shoes to fill following in the wake of Harry Cantwell’s departure, but after several months of rehearsal the group is confident that they are in capable hands and feet.

Bassist Adrian Maestas comments, “After trying out drummers for a few months we think we’ve found the right guy. Welcome aboard, Addison!”

Singer/Guitarist Mike Scalzi gave only a short list of the new Drummer’s vital statistics:
-Loyal Slough Feg fan since 2007
-Sharp wit / keen philosophical / linguistic intellect
-Corrective lenses necessary when drumming / viewing oversized metal chicks’ asses
-Huge heavy metal fan, with tastes ranging from early Maiden and Priest to Budgie and Beethoven
-Corporate spirit with liberal incentives towards Slough Feg’s prime directive

Guitarist Angelo Tringali couldn’t be reached for comment, but his answering machine informed us that he was out in search of “a different lime and whiskey cola.”

Addison will make his debut with Slough Feg on April 16th, 2015, at the Eagle S.F. in San Francisco. ONWARD!!!

“Digital Resistance” was recorded with Justin Weis (who produced the album with vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi) at Trakworx in South San Francisco from January-October 2013 and marks the band’s first new studio album since 2010’s “The Animal Spirits.” Order your copy at metalblade.com/sloughfeg. The album is available digitally, on CD, and on vinyl. The opaque purple vinyl with grey haze is still available in limited quantities at indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords.

http://www.sloughfeg.com
https://www.facebook.com/sloughfegofficial
http://www.metalblade.com/us/artists/slough-feg

Slough Feg, “Digital Resistance”

Tags: , , ,

Revisiting 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums

Posted in Features on December 11th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

tomorrows-dream-REVISITED-Original-etching-by-Wenceslas-Hollar

[PLEASE NOTE: This is not my Top Albums of 2014 list. That’s coming later in the month.]

First of all, the math was wrong. The list went to 42, not 40…

I did two major “stuff is coming out” posts this year. The first was January’s Tomorrow’s Dream: 42 of 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums, and the second was July’s 30 Before ’15: Records Not to Miss Before the New Year Hits. Apparently I have thing for cumbersome titles.

At best, this stuff is a crapshoot. Until something’s just about in your hand, you never really know when or if it’s going to come out. But they’re fun, and it’s exciting to think of good music being released, so you do it anyway. On the whole, I don’t think I did that badly between the two lists. Of course there was stuff that wasn’t anticipated — Colour Haze‘s new album, To the Highest Gods We Know, walks by and waves en route to its Dec. 15 release date — but for what we got, it worked out well.

That’s the general overview, but because I hold myself to a standard of accountability more rigorous than, say, my nation’s torture-happy secret police, here’s a full rundown of the list as it was, now (as then), presented alphabetically and with the titles listed as they were at the time:

42 of 2014’s Most Anticipated Albums — REVISITED!

 

1. Acid King, TBA: Word is Acid King‘s first in 10 years was mastered last month and will be out in Feb. 2015 on Svart.
 

2. Alcest, Shelter: Was way less post-black metal than their prior stuff, and I think it threw a lot of people off. Not a bad record (review here), but worked against lofty expectations.
 

3. All Them Witches, TBA: I remember including this because they said they were going back into the studio. Turned out they were recording the Effervescent EP/jam (review here). No regrets.
 

4. Alunah, TBA: Their new one was their Napalm Records debut, Awakening the Forest (review here). It was awesome. Score one for the list.
 

5. Blackwolfgoat, Drone Maintenance: Yeah, it was cheating to include this since I was there when it was recorded. Still a killer record though.
 

6. Causa Sui, Live at Freak Valley: Ruled. Reviewed and streamed here. Made me want to see them even more.
 

7. Conan, Blood Eagle: What does complete dominance sound like? Sounds like Conan to me.
 

8. Eggnogg, You’re all Invited: Was dying to hear what the Brooklyn trio came up with. No word on it yet.
 

9. Elder, Live at Roadburn 2013: Still don’t have a copy of this. Maybe I can pick one up when I get their forthcoming third studio album, Lore, out early next year.
 

10. 40 Watt Sun, TBA: More like “MIA” than TBA. Anyone heard from these guys?
 

11. The Golden Grass, TBATheir self-titled debut (review here) was one of the finest first-albums I heard all year.
 

12. Greenleaf, Trails and Passes: Any Greenleaf is a treat. Trails and Passes (review here) was no exception.
 

13. Grifter, The Return of the Bearded Brethren: Solid follow-up (review here). Grifter‘s humor and lack of pretense serves them well.
 

14. Hull, TBA: Well, they had the Legend of the Swamp Goat single (review here) to coincide with their Euro tour. Waiting on the album.
 

15. Lowrider, TBA: I wouldn’t mind if this materialized right now. Or now. Or now. Or 2015. Or 2016.
 

16. The Machine, TBA: Might’ve jumped the gun on this. Hopefully in 2015.
 

17. Mars Red Sky, TBA: Easily one of the year’s best records. Stranded in Arcadia (review here) continues to get regular spins.
 

18. Mos Generator, Electric Mountain Majesty: A highlight of early 2014. Darker record (review here), but inarguable songwriting.
 

19. Mr. Peter Hayden, Archdimension NowFitting end to their trilogy and hopefully not their last outing.
 

20. Pallbearer, TBA: Their Foundations of Burden has topped year-end lists already. It’s still on my desktop. I’ve barely listened to it.
 

21. Papir, IIII: Very, very good. They seem to be developing, but IIII (review here) was a satisfying chronicle.
 

22. Pilgrim, TBA: Can’t say II: Void Worship (review here) wasn’t a win for the band since they did a month on the road with Spirit Caravan. Maybe overshadowed by more recent stuff, but a quality record.
 

23. Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt: Their incendiary heavy blues was in top form on Magical Dirt (review here). Glad I got to see them live once or twice (or 18 times) as well this year.
 

24. Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today: Also residing on my desktop. A vocalist switch caught me off guard and I feel like I still haven’t given it a fair shot.
 

25. Sixty Watt Shaman, TBA: Really? I had Sixty Watt on the list? That seems ambitious. No doubt they’ll have something new eventually, but that was a pretty high expectation it would be out this year.
 

26. Skraeckoedlan, Gigantos: If this came out, no one told me. Seems like not yet.
 

27. The Skull, TBA: A stunner. As much as I looked forward to it, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) exceeded the excitement.
 

28. Sleep, TBA: Included as wishful thinking. Their The Clarity single (review here) was something to celebrate.
 

29. Slough Feg, Digital Resistance: I was really looking forward to this one. Kind of fell off with Digital Resistance (review here) after a while. Hard to argue with Slough Feg though.
 

30. Snail, FeralWaiting on it for 2015.
 

31. Steak, TBAThe London four-piece followed two strong EPs with Slab City (review here), as heartfelt a showing of desert rock loyalty as I’ve heard.
 

Damn, this was a long list.
 

32. Stubb, TBA: I had my doubts it would arrive, but Stubb‘s Ripple Music debut, Cry of the Ocean (review here), found welcome when it did.
 

33. SunnO))) & Ulver, Terrestrials: One of two collaborations SunnO))) would have out in 2014. Heard a lot about it at the beginning of the year. Less now.
 

34. Tombs, Savage Gold: Good band, doing interesting stuff. I have a hard time transitioning from appreciating it to actually being a fan.
 

35. Triptykon, Melana ChasmataSorry, but when Tom G. Warrior puts out a record, you hop to. I didn’t review it to save myself having to buy a copy, but dug it anyway.
 

36. Truckfighters, Universe: I feel like this one picked up steam as the year went on. I didn’t go back to it as much as its predecessor, but Universe (review here) was a logical next step for them.
 

37. Valley of the Sun, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk: Nothing to complain about with the Ohio three-piece’s debut (review here) or the effort they put into supporting it throughout the year.
 

38. Weedeater, TBA: Nope. At least I knew it at the time.
 

39. Wolves in the Throne Room, TBA: Surprised a lot of people when Celestite (review here) was a companion piece for their last record instead of a new album proper, myself included.
 

40. The Wounded Kings, Consolamentum: 2014 was quite a year for doom, and The Wounded Kings were right there at the start. This lineup may be gone, but Consolamentum (review here) holds up.
 

41. Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You: Rumor is guitarist Gary Arce has a few projects in the works for next year. Not sure if this is one of them or not.
 

42. YOB, TBA: We certainly know how this worked out, don’t we? If the votes in the Readers Poll are anything to go by, yes. Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) was a landmark, and this won’t be the last year-end list around here on which YOB make a showing.
 

The list from July had a few winners on it as well — Apostle of Solitude, Blues Pills, Bongripper, Brant Bjork, Earth, Lo-Pan, The Well, Witch Mountain, etc. — but I think we’ve probably got enough as it is.

With the year starting to wind down, I’ll be putting together my Top 30 Albums of 2014 in the next week or so. Please keep an eye out for that, and thanks for reading.
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Slough Feg, Digital Resistance: Ravenous Medicine

Posted in Reviews on February 10th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Moral superiority suits San Francisco metallers Slough Feg. Their sound, rooted in NWOBHM traditions and met with righteousness culled from Celtic folk, is neither that simple nor that limited. They reside in that same hallowed realm of underappreciation as Voivod, whose Killing Technology is lyrically referenced here, or like what would’ve happened if the early metal of Cirith Ungol and Manilla Road had continued an unabated progression. All comparisons due justice to parts of their sound, none to the whole of it. Slough Feg‘s eighth full-length, 2010’s The Animal Spirits (review here), was organic in its sound and presentation, and while their 2014 follow-up, Digital Resistance (on Metal Blade), feels inherently more aggressive, it’s hard to figure where the line actually resides between band self-awareness and reading a narrative into the songs. Certainly, Slough Feg, who formed in 1990 and are led by guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi with Angelo Tringali on guitar, Adrian Maestas on bass and Harry Cantwell on drums, can be expected know what they’re doing by now, and as the title indicates, they’re working in opposition — the position beginning with opener “Analogue Avengers/Bertrand Russell’s Sex Den” seems to be (which I say because I haven’t had the benefit of a lyric sheet) resistance to the digital rather than putting up a resistance via or from the digital — so it’s just as easy to think the signs of a struggle are evoked from the music as they are actually present in it. Who ever knows anything, anyway? Rock and roll, goddammit.

The opener sets both the stage and a dramatic tone befitting it, Scalzi‘s voice clear as ever over the band’s dense and rhythmic churn, but the ensuing title-track offers more of a gallop, and much of Digital Resistance seems keen to play the two sides off each other. A seamless blend of acoustic and electric guitar is nothing new for Slough Feg, and though the character and theme of this album is different, one can hear traces of consistency and development both from The Animal Spirits and the preceding outings, 2009’s Ape Uprising! and 2007’s Hardworlder. Slough Feg sounding like Slough Feg shouldn’t be any great surprise to anyone who’s followed the band at any point in their tenure, but that creative will to stand apart suits well the personality of Digital Resistance, and as “Habeas Corpsus” introduces a spacious acoustic strum amid tom roll and multi-layered vocals, the rush in terms of pace is no less prevalent than it was on the title cut — momentum quickly built and even quicker once it gets going. “Magic Hooligan” furthers the pace, bouncing thrash circularity off more technically engaged riff work and slamming into heavy rock groove into its second half as a bed for classic-style soloing and smooth transition back to a double-kick final verse, a sneakier guitar line in “Ghastly Appendage” holding more tension even as it seems to be paying off in its chorus, peculiar and instrumental save for maniacal laughing. Digital Resistance doesn’t feel overtly structured for vinyl — at 10 tracks and just under 41 minutes, it breaks evenly track-wise at 19 minutes for side A and almost 22 for side B, with “Ghastly Appendage” providing a strange, down-the-rabbit-hole vibe to close out the first half.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , ,