When a band has been around for the better part of 30 years, like Slough Feg (or The Lord Weird Slough Feg, for those that like their band names to be dramatic) have, there are certain ways set in place. For Slough Feg, that’s galloping heavy metal with guitar harmonies that sound like guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi and guitarist Angelo Tringali are joined at the hip. Those two have been locked in as a premier guitar duo since Tringali joined the band in the mid 2000’s, and their chemistry is a large factor in the band’s tenth studio album, New Organon.
Though Scalzi is the only original member of the band left, this lineup, which includes long-time bassist Adrian Maestas, has been relatively stable since the dawn of the new millennium. Only the drum seat has rotated quite a bit, with studio duties on this album being split between newly minted member Jeff Griffin and John Dust. New Organon is a Slough Feg album, which is like saying “Black Ice is an AC/DC album” or “Inferno is a Motorhead album.” It’s not a knock, but a sign that their established ways continue to bear ripe sonic fruit.
Scalzi’s day job as a philosophy professor continues to blend into the band’s lyrical themes, where philosophers like Aristotle and Jean-Jacques Rousseau provide inspiration, as made clear by the latter’s ideas coming across in “Discourse on Equality.” That song is based on a work from Rosseau titled A Discourse Upon the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality Among Mankind. Pretty heavy stuff, especially for a genre that doesn’t often delve into these topics.
The lyrics are a nice bonus for those that pay attention to what the singer is spouting. However, those that aren’t into receiving a philosophy lesson and just want to turn off their brains and bang their heads will be more than satisfied by what Slough Feg do with New Organon. Scalzi and Tringali put their harmonies on blast on songs like “The Cynic” and “Being and Nothingness.” Their most integral work together comes with “Uncanny,” which features Maestas behind the mic for lead vocals in an uncommon occurrence for the band that pays off.
On New Organon, Slough Feg revert to a sound that meshes their old and new ways in successful fashion. It’s been a bit of time since their last album (over five years, to be exact). While their output has not been as proficient as it was a decade ago, the quality has not subsided. In nine albums, they haven’t released a dud, and the tenth one lives up to the lofty expectations their loyal fan base has for the band.
(released June 21, 2019 on Cruz Del Sur Music)