Cruz Del Sur Music
Slough Feg came to our attention a couple years ago when we reviewed their 2007 release Hardworlder. Their cover of the Horselips classic “Dearg Doom” is still on the top of our list. Formed in Pennsylvania by Mike Scaizi as a folk metal outfit, they spent the late ‘80s ripping off Iron Maiden / Judas Priest riffs and doing some serious damage to local eardrums. A move to San Francisco in 1990 changed the lineup but the vision of the group, much like their comic book superhero persona, remained intact. Between slogging it out with a relentless string of gigs, Scaizi enrolled in college, graduated with a Masters in Philosophy and negotiated a record deal with Italian label Dragonheart. The label released the band’s first three records which led to a dedicated following throughout Europe. A switch to the smaller Italian label Cruz Del Sur in 2005 produced the essential Atavism defining the band’s sound and solidifying their direction. Hardworlder followed in 2007, which leads us to their current explosive outing Ape Uprising, a raging slab of plastic that wields twin guitars, throbbing bass and crushing drums.
“All our albums read like a page out of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution with a comic book setting,” says Scaizi when we called him on his attraction to recessive trait lyrics that leapfrog generations from album to album. “I like to merge natural selection with a metal chord progression,” he says with a laugh. Tongue-in-cheek aside, Scaizi works as a Philosophy professor in Diablo Valley, CA, which ends up being the best job for a musician. “I teach for part of the year and take summers and semester breaks to take the band out on the road,” he says. “I even get students who Google the band and show up at gigs. I had one student, who was already a fan, show up to my class and freak because his teacher was the singer for Slough Feg.” All the band members are in the unique position to balance both job and band activities crisscrossing the states on short tours, spreading the word of The Lord Weird’ Slough Feg. Says the professor, “Last year we toured extensively with The Sword and before that Bible of the Devil. We have hot spots around the country that we do really well…and we try to get to Europe every other year.”
New opus Ape Uprising is more of a continuation of the Darwinism that surrounded Atavism with songs like “Overborne” (We came from the ocean, we saw though the sky) and the vibe of the title track (Now that your missing link was found in the shackled chain). The latter is also the only song we ever heard to include “opposable thumbs” in the lyrics. A pleasant surprise is the theatrical, almost Queen-like delivery of “Simian Manifesto”. “Freddy Mercury is my favorite singer of all time,” says Scaizi. “This song was me trying my best to capture his flare. Not necessarily to sound like him but to bring a certain style to the song.” The track gallops along with ringing guitars and chest thumping drums capitalizing on knuckle-dragging elements of Neanderthal rock. The shuffle in the middle break is an inspired twist. Elsewhere, the four-piece take full advantage of a slower Sabbath clubbing in “The Hunchback of Notre Doom” a lumbering giant of distortion and feedback and a plodding bass dirge.
Dio-era Sabbath creeps in on “Shakedown at Six” with more of a “Neon Nights” rhythm structure tossed in with some tasty, classic seventies, Thin Lizzy riffing. Concluding track “Nasty Hero” (pulled from the lyric in “Shackdown”), also has a kind of stoner fuzz and chugging chord progression. The lyrics “species out of time” could go a couple ways - like a late night movie unfolding into a Frank Miller comic. “That’s one of my favorites,” says Scaizi. “As is ‘Simian Manifesto’ and the title track ‘Ape Uprising’, although ‘Ape’ gets a little long winded.” We however, disagree and pick “Ape Uprising” as the quintessential track for this batch. At ten-minutes long and stitched together with Maiden, Lizzy and UFO riffs, it gallops along with a raging torrent of old school Euro-metal equally as visual and sonically captivating as “Two Minutes to Midnight” or “Lights Out”. About five-minutes in, the song changes to a full-scale jam including dueling guitars and a mind blowing bass solo - and some of the best powerhouse drumming found anywhere.
Website: The Lord Weird’ Slough Feg, Cruz Del Sur Music