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Slough Feg - Twilight of the Idols Review

by Matt Hensch

Slough Feg's early records have a sort of charm to them that makes them hugely likable. They aren't enjoyable in the sense that neck-cracking riffs and soul-slashing solos heave and retch from every corner of their gallows, or that they are produced or composed magnificently, but they are fun. "Twilight of the Idols" seems to be the bad kid of the group, coming far behind "Down Among the Deadmen" in terms of content and staggering against the matured might of "Traveller," yet it prevails through an idiosyncratic take on heavy metal and untouchable charisma that catches Slough Feg's hand in the cookie jar. The kind of Celtic-fused heavy metal they produced here is certainly one of the more attractive aspects of the band, and although the record has some duds and misfires, "Twilight of the Idols" is a successful yet silly record on more levels than one.

"Twilight of the Idols" is a bit more folksy than some of Slough Feg's other outputs. That said, Slough Feg's weird and wonderful style of heavy metal blooms like a rose in summer, dialing up the riffs and melodies à la Iron Maiden with a Celtic tinge and exploiting some clandestine Sabbath-esque drawls throughout slower, bluesy numbers like "Bipolar Disorder." However, this is not a total representation of Slough Feg's efforts; their sound and style for the most part reach beyond definition and description. The individualistic features of the band such as Mike Scalzi's colorfully gruff and demanding bellows and the carefree, zesty feel to the album make the whole picture a rather magnetic and enthralling experience abroad, and "Twilight of the Idols" ends up making its own adequate imprint into Slough Feg's biography.

It's not an entirely excellent record, however. The drum sound, for instance, is simply horrid and pretty much non-existent—the toms sound like they're filled with water and all send out a toneless thud, and the bass drum is too foggy in the mix to make an impact. During "High Season II," the drums are one of the most important pieces leading into the song, but their volume is so cloudy that they don't create anything worthwhile whatsoever. It doesn't help that "High Season II" feels like a bust song as it is; it's boring and uneventful. Slough Feg's goofy lyrics and silly charm get out of hand during "Life in the Dark Age," wherein the riffs and atmosphere transcend comical territory and become downright stupid. The instrumental "Warpspasm" is an annoying instrumental number, too; completely trivial to the overall picture.

It'd be a waste of time getting too wrapped up in the flaws of the album, because, although hindrances are present, its moments of brilliance are —get ready—brilliant. Numbers like "Highlander" or "The Wickerman" explore a lot of the band's creative elements and versatile guitar work while Scalzi sings in his trademark narrative like any metal vocalist in legendary stature; normal Slough Feg songs, but Slough Feg songs are anything but normal. The flamboyant "Slough Feg" is intense and reckless, while "Brave Connor Mac" is merely an acoustic folk jam, but a great one at that. Excellent drinking song. The nine-minute titan entitled "The Great Ice Wars" is to Slough Feg what "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is to Iron Maiden, with its limitless arsenal of awesome riffs flying around like a horde of locusts. Stellar tune.

I could sit here and spew out the ins and outs of the fourteen tracks throughout "Twilight of the Idols" in full detail, because—let's face it—Slough Feg is unlike anything else, and their efforts here are both entertaining and fascinating. Stacking up the comprehensive piece of "Twilight of the Idols" to the band's other efforts does not bode well for this record, however; it's amateurish, sloppy, a bit clumsy around the edges. However, Slough Feg was merely warming up to its heavy metal equation at this point, and they were soon ready to rock and roll into Olympus like a wasted Hermes after a night of partying. Stick with their other albums first; they'll offer better exposure to the all-inclusive idea of Slough Feg. That said, even their weaker records, such as "Twilight of the Idols," are still enjoyable. That's a good problem to have.

Slough Feg - Twilight of the Idols


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