Once upon a time there was a band called The Lord Weird Slough Feg. After two or three albums they changed their name to the snappier Slough Feg. Now they’ve changed it back. I have no idea why if I’m honest. I thought that it might be that their sound had taken a turn back to their older days but, having played this back to back with their previous album Digital Resistance other than perhaps a slightly heavier tone to the guitars I can’t see a different approach. They still have those highly distinctive stop-start guitar runs, the hugely distinctive and excellent vocals of Mike Scalzi and the determinedly maverick approach to music. All good.
Their weird (ha!) thing is though that despite having all their studio albums I have a very mixed history with this band. For every ‘Down Among The Deadmen’, ‘Hardworlder’ or ‘Digital Resistance ‘ which blow me away there’s an ‘Animal Spirits’, ‘Atavism’ and now ‘Neo Organon’ which leave me locked outside scratching my head in confusion.
So the good stuff is always here with (The Lord Weird) Slough Feg: The musicality, the guitar work, those vocals and the determination to weave a story. Heavy rock with a strange progressive flavour. The production is fine too; clear and keeping a spontaneous feel without being live. Just…
Ah, there’s no avoiding it. I’ve listened to this album more than a dozen times and whilst it’s on I’m ok with it. When it finishes not one song has stayed in my head. Is it me? Oh probably. It’s the problem I have with those other albums I mentioned. There is no ‘Tiger! Tiger!’ or ‘Habeas Corpsus’ or ‘Cauldron Of Blood’. I feel terrible saying it. I mean this is The Lord Weird Slough Feg for fucks sake. They are legends.
But there it is.
From the opening guitar run in ‘Headhunter’ when it really couldn’t be anyone else even before the vocals it lays out the song and you keep expecting it to take off. But it just stays…well, ok. ‘Discourse On Equality’ has the usual high level of lyric writing, which is always several layers above most others, but it never really develops into a song for me. ‘The Apology’ come closest for staying with me after the album closes but it still sounds like an extra that didn’t make it to Hardworlder. It’s not that I expect every band to write songs dripping obvious hooks, let alone The Lord Weird, but this is like eel wrangling.
‘Being And Nothingness’ actually is probably the best track here – a turn of speed, a driving riff and some super lead surges. The title track too seems to have an extra surge of life, a verve and I think I’m getting there with this at last. But then ‘Sword Of Machiavelli’ wanders past and I’m lost again. ‘Uncanny’ strangely reminds me of Corsair, the first time a Slough Feg track has ever reminded me of a different band so strongly. And hey its darned good. See? I don’t hate the album. ‘Coming Of Age In The Milky Way’ though, again, kinda sits there twiddling its thumbs. ‘Exegesis Tragic Hooligan’ is a nice companion piece to ‘Magic Hooligan’ from the previous album and is one of their classic little lighter, mid paced songs I do like so much. ‘The Cynic’ though for all its lyrical dexterity leaves me ending flat.
So there it is. I think the word I want is ‘patchy’. Half the album isn’t bad at all. The other isn’t bad, it simply does nothing for me. This makes me sad as I want to live everything from this glorious band. The world needs them so much. It simply leaves me bemused by the end.
If you’re already a fan you’ll be buying this anyway and half if not all will be laughing at my inability to see the glory here. If you’re new, though I’d take a listen to Hardworlder or Digital Resistance before this; and do because The Lord Weird Slough Feg are the best band you haven’t heard yet.
Just this isn’t their best.