Slough Feg - Traveller
DragonHeart / SPV
Classic 80s Heavy Metal
12 songs (44'41")
Release year: 2003
Reviewed by Alex

Are you prepared to take a trip down memory lane? Are you old enough to go back, oh, 20 years or so? If the answer to both questions is “Yes” I strongly recommend you dig out one of the Slough Feg (or more formally The Lord Weird Slough Feg) discs. Traveller is my first experience with this San Francisco outfit, and it certainly brought memories of my high school days.

Slough Feg play heavily NWOBHM influenced power metal with a good epic feel about it. In this sense they could be a twin brother to Twisted Tower Dire, another American band preaching the same genre.

Right after the marching intro titled The Spinward Marches, the band exhibits a barrage of galloping riffs, slightly distorted twin leads and a massive guitar hook towards the end of the song on High Passage/Low Passage. This is no frills 80s metal at its best. Not too exuberant or mind-blowingly original, but epic and bombastic altogether. It is interesting that Slough Feg create the epic feeling without ten or more backing vocals huge choruses, a boatload of keyboards, female singers, philharmonic orchestras or hiring producers named Sasha Paeth (no snipes intended here). They just go about their music coming up with one straight-in-your-face riff after another, and you don’t help it but catch yourself singing along with Mike Scalzi.

Slough Feg remind me of early Jag Panzer, Liege Lord and Manilla Road, but their roots are firmly entrenched with the first Iron Maiden albums. The music on Vargr Moon slows down for a slice of stone rock with fuzzier guitar sounds being replaced with a “thrash splash” midway through a song. If I am not mistaken both guitars (Scalzi and John Cobbett) switch between dueling with each other and twin harmonies. Fist pumping anthem Vargr Theme/Confrontation transforms into a militaristic barbaric hymn and presents another excellent epic lead. Honestly, these two compositions framed by Professor’s Theme and Gene-ocide on each side present the best portion of the album. Even a largely acoustic, but not very descriptive, acoustic ballad Baltech’s Lament can’t slow Traveller down. Riverdance noodly hooks and rhythms coupled with some tribal drumming by Greg Haa on Gene-ocide justify Celtic influences, something I thought somebody named Slough Feg (clearly an Irish reference) would be full of. The closer Addendum Galactus is so Iron Maiden influenced it almost borders on plagiarism, but I’d take it towards the end of the album.

My only issue with the overall sound is the vocals. I understand that Mike Scalzi is a motor of the band, and he sounds a bit like Paul Di’Anno. Well, I have never been a fan of the guy, so those references are only a minus in my book. Somebody with a larger range than Scalzi would do wonders for Slough Feg, but you don’t replace your #1 guy, so I don’t see it happening.

The production of the album is extremely heavy, and it helps with how the album is being perceived. A lot of attention to the bass drum and booming bass guitar (Adrian Maestas) create a very heavy, but straightforward, atmosphere.

Judging from the song titles, a few lyrics bits I was able to make out, the electronic sounds of “space guns” firing in some songs and the “cosmic” cover I am more than sure that the album is a concept work about survival/fall of the human race, space travel and intergalactic intrigue. Might be interesting to check the lyrics if you can dig out the complete version.

Bottom line is if early Iron Maiden and a certain portion of Iced Earth catalogue is your cup of tea Slough Feg will nestle right in, and provide an enjoyable slab of music. Just like it did for me.

Killing Songs :
High Passage/Low Passage, Professor's Theme, Vargr Moon, Vargr Theme/Confrontation, Gene-ocide, The Final Gambit
Alex quoted 78 / 100
Jeff quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by Slough Feg that we have reviewed:
Slough Feg - Digital Resistance reviewed by Thomas and quoted 80 / 100
Slough Feg - The Animal Spirits reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
Slough Feg - Ape Uprising reviewed by Thomas and quoted 91 / 100
Slough Feg - Hardworlder reviewed by Alex and quoted 86 / 100
Slough Feg - Atavism reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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