|Review: Slough Feg - Ape Uprising!|
Label: Cruz Del Sur
Year released: 2009
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: August 31, 2009
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rated 3.8/5 (76%) (45 Votes)
Slough Feg by now are basically Mike Scalzi and his rotating door band, never keeping to the same line-up for more than one album or a couple of years. As a result, their sound is quite metamorphic and fluid these days, changing faces with each new release, but still keeping the basic roots of Scalzi's Slough Feg tradition – the Thin Lizzy-esque solos, his own deep, triumphant tenor, and the generally Heavy Metal riff stylings, no matter how much they may differ in the subtleties of it all. This new album is titled Ape Uprising! (you do have to put the exclamation point on there, yes), and it once again shows the band moving forward in their quest to create unique, individualistic music. This is one act that never rests on its laurels, you see.
The sound is a little less elaborate and progressive than the one seen on 2007's Hardworlder, but that doesn't make it any less cool. This is the sloppiest, most atavistic we've seen Scalzi since the band's unruly debut in the mid-90s, to be frank; it's packed to the brim with frantic riffs and squealing, trigger-happy lead work, and just listen to that heavy, retroactive production job. This album might only be thirty-seven minutes long – a crime, in my book! – but then, it's better that this makes you want more as opposed to making you want to turn it off and being too long for its own good.
Through songs like the opening "The Hunchback of Notre Doom," which has perhaps the BEST song title ever made, the riveting "Ape Outro" and the stomping, introspective "Simian Manifesto," we see Slough Feg doing what they do best, providing a carefully executed synthesis of many aspects of their progressing sound over the last ten years wrapped up in a tight ball of flaming enthusiasm. "White Cousin" slightly resembles the great "Baltech's Lament" from Traveller, with its acoustic sections and ringing vocal performance, and it's probably the weakest song, but that isn't saying much, mind you. There are also some oddities here, as in the rockier "Nasty Hero" and "Shakedown at the Six," which are both great songs in their own right, transporting the listener with ease to a drunken, musty tavern where the only law is that of the bottle. The real surprise, however, is the ten minute title track, which morphs from a galloping Iron Maiden-meets-Braveheart folk epic into a 70s-style guitar lead section that lasts for about the last four or five minutes. Oh, Slough Feg, so cheeky – proving me wrong when I had previously said that you weren't very good at long songs!
Another thing I like on here is the thundering bass sound, which is perhaps more prominent here than it has ever been before in a Slough Feg album, giving all of these songs a wild, boisterous air that lends to the feel of being chased through the Congo by ravenous apes. The whole sound is just superbly messy and yet the songwriting remains consistently complex and challenging.
Overall, though, I don't quite think this is Slough Feg's best effort, being a little stunted in places and less developed, but that isn't a huge problem, as this is still about as addictive as crack cocaine. Ape Uprising! is a lot of things, from a retroactive hard rock gem to a progressive metal maelstrom, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys to boot, and if you love Heavy Metal, then you will love this. Highly recommended.
|Other related information on the site|
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Interview with Mike Scalzi (Guitars/Vocals) on November 9, 2003 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with Mike Scalzi (Vocals, guitar) on December 22, 2010 (Interviewed by Adam Kohrman)
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