1. Robustus 2. I Will Kill You/You Will Die 3. Portcullis 4. Hiberno-Latin Invasion 5. Climax of a Generation 6. Atavism 7. Eumaeus the Swineherd 8. Curse of Athena 9. Agnostic Grunt 10. High Season V 11. Starport Blues 12. Man Out of Time 13. Agony Slalom 14. Atavism II
Slough Feg, recently shortened from The Lord Weird Slough Feg, are very weird indeed… but not at all in a bad way. Hailing from San Francisco, these guys are pretty different from your average American metal band. They have a traditional heavy metal base, but with one big twist that sets them apart. Slough Feg has a definite Celtic, almost folky tinge to almost every one of their songs. Now, of course, this in itself is not unique. However, Slough Feg manage to pull it off without using any folk instruments – no fiddle, no flute, not even nay keyboards. They rely solely on their unique guitar riffs to create a really special sound.
Atavism is the group’s sixth effort, put together by Mike Scalzi (guitars and vocals), John Cobbett (guitars), Adrian Maestas (bass), and Greg Haa (drums). Sometime after recording was finished, guitarist Angelo Tringali joined the band’s ranks. Instead of writing ten or so three to four minute songs, these guys decided to make an album mostly comprised of shorter songs. Only six of the fourteen songs break the three-minute mark. This is an unusual formula for this kind of metal, one often used by grind bands and the like, but not something you’d expect from a band like Slough Feg. Fortunately, this little oddity does nothing to disrupt the overall flow or quality of the album – everything seems to fall together nicely.
This album starts off with a short intro track, Robustus, but unlike a typical intro which is mellow and usually used to create some sort of tension leading into the second song, Slough Feg come out with all their guns blazing from the first second. It still leads nicely into I Will Kill You/You Will Die, the album’s best track by far. Listening to these two in a row has been one of the more fun and exciting moments in my music listening experience. Atavism has a number of nice instrumental tracks, and the third, Portcullis, is one of them. Slough Feg continue to chug along happily until the sixth track, Atavism, where they slow things down a bit. Acoustic guitars are the main instrument here, and the song has a very soft and pleasant feel.
Next up are two tracks, Eumaeus the Swineherd and Curse of Athena, whose names sounded pretty familiar. Judging by the lyrical content my suspicions were correct – these two are based off of segments from the epic Greek myth “The Odyssey”. In the first we hear of Odysseus hiding out in the hut of his loyal servant, the swineherd, biding his time before he launches an attack against the evil suitors plaguing his wife and palace. Curse of Athena is where we hear a bit more about his past, about how he’s been away for twenty years, etc. Anyone who’s heard Symphony X’s “The Odyssey” is going to notice the similar subject matter.
Tracks nine through thirteen are pleasant enough to listen to, but don’t really stand out all that much when compared to the first half of the album. I’ve got nothing to say against them, but they don’t merit any special praise either. They’re what you should have come to expect from Slough Feg at this point – short, to the point, and with a slight folk twist. The last song, however, Atavism II, is something special. Apart from Robustus and I Will Kill You/You Will Die, this is the album’s greatest moment. Everything that the band accomplished on the first thirteen tracks converges and comes together here with a bang. It’s also one of the longer, if not the longest song on the album, at four minutes, twelve seconds. Here we see the most impressive guitar work yet, as Mike and John are able to both establish a stunning melody and pull off some wicked solos.
After listening to this album all the way through a handful of times, I’ve decided it’s definetley a keeper. It’s not going to win album of they ear or anything, but it’s pretty damn entertaining. The band’s aggressiveness and uniqueness really make them a one of a kind. Pretty much any fan of power, heavy, traditional, and folk metal, as well as hard rock, will like Atavism. As Skyclad are the closest reference part here, their fans should be especially vigilant in their efforts to listen to Slough Feg.
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