Review Summary: Atavism itself is an average record that musically does nothing to separate itself from other records that have come out in the heavy metal scene. Lyrically the album is original, but this originality is left in vein as the listener is instead left concen2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Taking their influences equally from traditional Heavy Metal and Celtic and Folk, Slough Feg is surely owners of the most bizarre handles in rock today. Known for their theatrical performances the band was formed by lead singer Mike Scalzi sometime during the mid 90’s. Though they are relatively obscure, the power-metal community has hailed the band ever since they released their self-titled eponymous debut. One thing that’s been said about them is their originality. But once I started listening to Atavism I learned otherwise.
Leaving out the pre-fix of “The Lord Weird” doesn’t make things any less weird or better yet accessible this time around on Atavism. Ironic, considering that’s why the band removed the pre-fix (accessibility). Calling the band original is subjective in this case as the band lyrically is original, but musically isn’t. Reading the biography of the band after Atavism was suggested to me got me psyched. But boy was it a classic case of hyperbole. What was promised was originality and “one of the most remarkable bands”. Instead I found that it was the same heavy metal that’s out now, nothing new. But what were original (or strange in this case) were the lyrics. The lyrics are heavily influenced by Irish folklore to the point where they got outright ridiculous. Maybe it’s just me, but lines like “For sake of ale, Lantern and earth” and “Crouched in the hut of swineherd” are just out right ridiculous. Never before have I seen a band that was so fascinated with mythology ranging from Greek to Celtic.
Personally, I believe lyrics should be the most accessible part of an artist. Well maybe even a bit. But Slough Feg’s approach to lyricism throws out the whole idea of accessibility. The musicianship on the other hand is impressive, technically sound and there’s plenty of shredding to satisfy all metal heads around, but that’s exactly the problem. People who enjoy metal will no doubt enjoy the musicianship, but the same old riffs and hammer-ons that we’ve heard over the years can be seen here. There’s simply not enough in there to lure in listeners who don’t want to listen to the same old heavy metal. The vocals throughout the record are actually quite good and operatic in nature and have a soaring quality to them, which makes them perfect for their brand of Power-metal. But what’s unfortunate is that the group isn’t able to deliver the power aspect of the power-metal equation. Only a select few tracks make me “feel” powerful, those being Atavism and Atavism II. Maybe this shortcoming has to do with the song writing as the band has the makings to make some powerful Celtic tinged metal, but just falls flat here.
Eradicating the pre-fix of “The Lord Weird” from their name can’t change the accessibility of this band. Atavism itself is an average record that musically does nothing to separate itself from other records that have come out in the heavy metal scene. Lyrically the album is original, but this originality is left in vein as the listener is instead left concentrating on the ridiculous folk influenced lyrics. In the end the albums only saving grace is its complex albeit generic musicianship.