01. Analogue Avengers / Bertrand Russell’s Sex Den 02. Digital Resistance 03. Habeas Corpsus 04. Magic Hooligan 05. Ghastly Appendage 06. Laser Enforcer 07. The Price Is Nice 08. Curriculum Vitae 09. The Luddite 10. Warriors Dusk2014 Metal Blade Records
by Daniel Marsicano
Whenever Slough Feg is discussed among a group of like-minded metal heads, words like "underappreciated" and "overlooked" emerge at some point in the conversation. Those two words get tossed into the fray often, and considering the band has released eight superb albums over the past two decades to little more than a loyal following, that's an understandable assessment. It's tough for any band to release back-to-back stellar recordings, let alone eight of them, but there hasn't been a blemish in their catalog yet. That could be due to their entertaining sound that comes off as the spawn of a three-way between Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden and Angel Witch. Though their name does get some flack on this site, it's the jovial music that will win over any distractors. This is metal as the forefathers of the genre thought it up: the dueling guitar solos, the soaring harmonies, and the avoidance of anything resembling dullness. Though evolving and adding in other styles, these features have always found a place in the band's vision. Digital Resistance is no different in its employment of these elements. So we're nine albums in with Digital Resistance and what does Slough Feg do on this go around? Well, they're not messing with conventional design, that's for sure. The band's goal is as it has always been: write memorable songs. You would think that's a cakewalk, but after composing over 100 original songs, it's fair to go into this with a degree of curiosity. Not that they couldn't pull it off - that was inevitable - but that they could do it convincingly enough to have it stand up to releases like Traveller and Twilight of the Idols is the real prize. Though this isn't a concept album in the strictest sense, our dependence on technology, Vincent Price films, and badass laser attacks are all part of a singular idea that the band has compared to the foundational structure of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band has never been one to shy away from eccentric themes (Ape Uprising! is full of them), so lines like "They'll weld your eyes to a phone" seem like standard musings from the mind of frontman Mike Scalzi. Though the lyrics are delivered through Scalzi's signature wails, the music is the real attraction, as usual. "Ghastly Appendage" and "Curriculum Vitae" keep the vocals to a minimum, lending a feel for open-ended instrumental passages that showcase the gripping chemistry between guitarist Scalzi and Angelo Tringali. These two have been trading off fantastic solos and unpredictable harmonies for almost ten years now, and that bond makes for some exciting musicianship. The pacing of Digital Resistance is all over the map, from the speediness of the title track to the Western flavor of "Habeas Corpsus." An organ is put to excellent use on "Analogue Avengers/Bertrand Russell's Sex Den" and acoustic guitars get some extra space on several tracks, including the monumental closer "Warrior's Dusk." Even when the band goes into a mid-tempo range, the frantic rhythm section, led by the schizo drumming from Harry Cantwell, never grinds the album down. Slough Feg has balked at any trends that have passed their way dating back to their inception in the early ‘90s, forging a career that is unique to them. Just as heavy metal is timeless, so too is Slough Feg. Are they stuck in a time warp? Perhaps. They won't be throwing breakdowns at us anytime soon, or pulling out oversized baseball caps and turning them backwards to spit some contemporary rhetoric into our faces. They play metal, the kind of exhilarating music at which it's impossible to glower. Air guitar is not only encouraged, but is almost required. Digital Resistance should be celebrated for not breaking the creative high that goes back to their 1996 debut, The Lord Weird Slough Feg. Bottom Line: Slough Feg can do no wrong with Digital Resistance, continuing to represent the best of traditional heavy metal.