Album Review: Slough Feg - Digital Resistance
Slough Feg is one of those bands that I should love, but just never find myself listening to. Last year I reviewed three of their early albums as they were re-released by Metal Blade, and despite how much I enjoyed “Down Among The Deadmen”, I haven't found it in regular rotation. “Ape Uprising!” is my favorite Slough Feg record, but again, I don't find myself listening to it very often. I can't explain why, since every time I do, I'm reminded of how great a band Slough Feg can be. Their blend of traditional metal, hard rock, and folk influences is enticing, and they know how to write a catchy song. I can't listen to “Free Market Barbarian” without getting it caught in my head for days.
I think my issue with Slough Feg is that for as great as they can be, they seldom deliver entire records at that level. They have a tendency to wander off and include a couple of songs on every record that aren't anywhere near as sharp, and given their penchant for short albums, that can often be a deal breaker.
“Digital Resistance” doesn't do anything new, not that we're asking for it to. Slough Feg sounds like Slough Feg, and there's nothing wrong with that. “Analogue Avengers/Bertrand Russell's Sex Den” starts the album with the expected tongue-in-cheek that defines Slough Feg. The song is interesting for being more keyboard driven than usual, and for name-checking a philosopher that doesn't get taught in Philosophy 101. I love little details like that, because it shows Slough Feg doesn't feel bad about making their audience do a little research to understand what they're saying.
The title track gets things back on course, a short burst of everything Slough Feg is. With it's nimble riff that sounds like an amped up Thin Lizzy, and a catchy chorus that is easy to sing along to, it's a three minute blast of hard rock goodness, and Slough Feg at their best. The songs in this vein, like the thumping “Magic Hooligan”, are some of the most compact, best songs the band has written. They're short, to the point, and don't waste time with extraneous parts. “Laser Enforcer” can't be improved.
“Habeas Corpsus”, pun and all, carries all the spaghetti western atmosphere Volbeat tried to utilize on their last album, but does so much more effectively. The thumping bass drums and ringing chords make for an interesting sound, which singer Mike Scalzi uses as the basis for another richly melodic chorus. Scalzi is in fine form throughout the album, his voice still uniquely his own. He gives more attention to his vocals on this album, making it perhaps the most melodic Slough Feg album yet.
“Curriculum Vitae” is another interesting track, with it's lengthy instrumental opening and waltz feel. When the vocals do appear, they don't add anything to the song, and seem a bit phoned in. That feeling is present through the entire second half of the record, which is less focused, and less memorable than the first half.
My verdict on “Digital Resistance” is the same as pretty much every Slough Feg album that has come before. I like it a fair amount, and there are some killer songs here, but there's not enough to call it a great album. The front half of the album is all great stuff, but the back half bogs down in those aimless songs Slough Feg tends to fill out their albums with. It's still an album worth checking out, as Slough Feg is always good stuff. It's just not an album that's going to change my perception of the band.