|Review: Slough Feg - Hardworlder|
Label: Cruz Del Sur Music
Year released: 2007
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: July 23, 2007
Reviewed by: Ulysses
Two years we've waited since "Atavism" was released by The Lord Weird Slough Feg. Some considered it outstanding (including me), and others considered it to be decent… Or even horrible. What's great about "Hardworlder" is that it's Slough Feg in the same vein as their previous effort, and while "Atavism" was great in my eyes, it lacked a certain focus that made it go off the tracks with some good but not entirely connected songs before recuperating its strength at the end. With "Hardworlder", we are plunged into an album that's heavily influenced (sonically and aesthetically) by the classic book "The Stars My Destination". Unlike "Atavism", this deals more with a more fictional and scientific basis (in comparison to "Atavism" which was based more on the subjects of the human psyche, and delved into other things such as Greek mythology and some brief Science Fiction moments. Hardworlder is indeed easy to compare to "Atavism", but it also has some moments that remind me of "Traveller" as well (which is undeniably my favorite Slough Feg album). Hardworlder is a combination of the two when speaking strictly of the music (which is perfect, no doubt), but when it comes to album's overall core and meaning, then we have to elaborate further. Many of you are thinking how I can justify this album with a perfect score.
With the last two albums, I've come to an understanding that (sadly enough) the Slough Feg fanbase has been split in two. Some that now considers the band to be over and done with, and others (like I) who would fight to the death that this band has nearly reached their peak. I'm as much a metalhead as the next bloke, and I'm a real Heavy Metal diehard as well, but I will gladly claim that this album transcends all the areas of Heavy Metal, and also tugs on its core influences as well. How an album can do that is beyond me, and justifying such a claim would make this more of an essay rather than a humble review (which I'm struggling to keep rather brief, as you can tell), but I believe its true. An appropriate description of "Hardworlder" would be that it borrows some strong tints of Thin Lizzy, whilst trying to tug on Manilla Road's "Mark of the Beast's" more rocking moments and finally wrapped together by Slough Feg's signature touch that rings true with the Metal community. "Hardworlder" is a weird breed of Heavy Metal, as if it's a merge between their previously strong balls-to-the-wall Heavy Metal combined with cosmic-ish Progressive Rock. All I am sure about is that the end result is truly devastating, and leaves you only wanting more.
The album kicks off with "The Return of Dr. Universe", which is an introductory instrumental that isn't as hard-hitting as "Atavism's" intro, but is instead more on the groovy side with a very bouncy riff. It's deliciously appetizing; no doubt. Afterwards, we are thrown into "Tiger! Tiger!" (Also known as the alternate title of the aforementioned "The Stars My Destination"), which begins with an incredibly catchy riff that kicks off your curiosity on your first listen, since you know it's Slough Feg, but it's also something that's new to your ears, as if you were expecting something new, but you are instead served with "strange". The leads are beautifully weaved into every song, and I always found them to be the gemstone of Slough Feg's musicianship. They know how to make attractive solos that complement the song perfectly. Afterwards, things cool down a bit into "The Sea Wolf" which is an incredibly catchy acoustic track that kicks up and ends suddenly, which provides a sense of eagerness as things build up for the title track. This is my favorite track on the album, it's just gleaming. The intro is slow and practical and then builds things up heavily enough before it all falls apart into a storm of melody and musical brilliance. Stellar track! Afterwards we're once again thrown into "The Spoils", which is a cool track that acts kind of like "Fergus Mac Roich" on "Down Among The Deadmen", connection the title track with Frankfurt-Hahn Airport Blues, which is a fun track that reminds me (obviously…) of "Starport Blues" from "Atavism". Afterwards we're provided a fun instrumental track which acts as a fun conclusion to the first half of the album.
The second half is a bit more on the obscure side, since it has two covers and has a more bizarre structure. "Dearg Doom" is a fine tribute to the original "Horslips" track, and "Insomnia" has one of the catchiest riffs I've ever heard, the lyrics are really though-provoking too on that track, and ranks with Slough Feg's best lyrical works along with "The Red Branch" and "Heavy Metal Monk". The next track "Poisoned Treasures" is one that Slough Feg diehards (once again… Like myself) are familiar with, making an appearance on their split with "Bible of the Devil" back in 2006. Karma-Kazee is the conclusion to the album and it begins slow but explodes into a headbang-worthy anthem. After another over-one-minute long instrumental that is similar to the first track, we are treated with Slough Feg's cover of "Street Jammer". Many consider this to be Manilla Road's worst track, but I've always REALLY enjoyed it and I found it to be rocking and rather on the fun side. Slough Feg noticed these elements of the song and highlighted them, adding their own flair and skill to the song, making it absolutely perfect. Personally I think it vastly outshines the original track, they definitely make it their own.
To conclude this review (which may be the longest review I've ever written?), I can only say that I wholeheartedly recommend this album to this who have a distinct love for Heavy Metal that has a profound focus on its crux, and then would like to see it lifted into space. A marvelous album by this past decade's best Heavy Metal band, get "Hardworlder"!
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