Slough Feg - The Animal Spirits
Profound Lore Records
Heavy Metal
11 songs (38'38")
Release year: 2010
Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Alex

One major disadvantage of being a reviewer is the fact you sometimes do not have endless amount of time to listen to an album by the band you are less familiar with. You don’t have the luxury to set the album aside, come back to it several months later and still be relevant with your review. More often than not you are able to provide your immediate impression only, the snapshot in a certain time window. While in most cases I would probably downgrade my reviews given more and more time spent with the music, there are some cases which stare at me as criminally underrated.

Way back in 2003 I had a situation like this with Slough Feg’s Traveller. At the time I did not have much prior exposure to the band and have to admit that I have lost some of the band’s brilliance behind its quirkiness, and while my subsequent reviews of Atavism and Hardworlder reflected my growing enthusiasm for Slough Feg, Traveller will remain a blemish I wish I could have corrected now.

The Animal Spirits represents another entry into Slough Feg’s growing discography, and by the looks of how easy albums roll off Mike Scalzi’s pen, it looks like Slough Feg is the band for which we do not have to worry about in terms of diminished productivity. Not bound by a single story line now, The Animal Spirits, very true to Slough Feg’s singular purpose of existence, continues in the vein of stripped down traditional metal, while taking rather painstaking efforts to expunge some overly technical and symphonic influences which crept into the band with a last few efforts. The Animal Spirits is a time machine, taking you back roughly 25-30 years, when most metal was about simple hooky riffs, forefront guitars and memorable choruses. One would have to add Mike’s eccentric and distinctive vocals to complete the picture.

Specifically for Slough Feg in 2010, with The Animal Spirits, the traditional metal could not have been more from the heart and could not have expressed more zest for life than the compositions do here. Generally, metal is a pretty grim music genre. I would never offer my favorite music as a quick mood picker-upper to a person not exposed enough to metal. With Slough Feg, however, optimism is firmly on display, and just about every song on The Animal Spirits proves it. Furthermore, every number here has a very distinct character about it, not to be repeated elsewhere on this short-running album. Ask the Casket is a fluid, most cheerful song about a vampire you will ever hear. Heavyworlder is plain goofy. The Tell Tale Heart takes Alan Parsons Project song and covers it with vibrancy not present on the original. Kon Tiki sways on the riff waves, title fitting to a Thor Heyerdahl ship, its unusual rhythmic structure harkening back to Traveller.

It is very interesting how Slough Feg manage not to repeat themselves, while basically working within confines of a defined genre. Just making well-structured, cool sounding songs helps, whether they shoot it out of the cannon with Trick the Vicar, measure it more carefully with a jagged edged gallop in The 95 Thesis, or contrast the syncopated riffs in Lycanthropic Fantasies with smooth leads. (Turning into a wolf is probably as much fun as turning into a vampire). Both the short and the long, the straightforward and more complex, sound similarly convincing on the album. Tactical Air War is a daring speed metal attack with Brocas Helm vocalist taking a guest spot and Materia Prima, being the case of no-fat instrumental, does not sound like the song for which the authors simply forgot to write lyrics. I manage to drift selecting my favorite tune on The Animal Spirits, having changed my mind several times already, but the most heartfelt and beautiful Second Coming always manages to stay on the list.

Not the album to constantly press for my attention, like Atavism or Ape Uprising, The Animal Spirits continues with its constant ebb and flow, almost mandating repeated listens it goes down so easily. Profound Lore certainly scored a coup landing the Scalzi crew on their roster, but I have to mention the fact that the booklet is severely lacking without printing Slough Feg trademark tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

Killing Songs :
Trick the Vicar, The 95 Thesis, Lycanthropic Fantasies, Second Coming
Alex quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Slough Feg that we have reviewed:
Slough Feg - Digital Resistance reviewed by Thomas and quoted 80 / 100
Slough Feg - Ape Uprising reviewed by Thomas and quoted 91 / 100
Slough Feg - Hardworlder reviewed by Alex and quoted 86 / 100
Slough Feg - Atavism reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Slough Feg - Traveller reviewed by Alex and quoted 78 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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