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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Slough Feg

Hardworlder

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve thought and thought about how to express my thoughts about this CD in as succinct and clear a way as possible and here it is: I love it! I have never heard this band before, although I’ve definitely heard of them. Their mix of classic rock sounds and retro metal is purely incredible. There is not a weak link in this musical chain. I love each and every song and they work together like a well-oiled machine. This is definitely going to be near the top of my list for both metal album and disc in general for the year. Of course one has to remember that Judas Priest’s new disc will be out shortly – so we’ll have figure that’s going to make the list, too. The thing is, everything about this is killer – from the music to the comic book styled cover. One more time – I love this album!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Return of Dr. Universe
This pounds in with an almost Iron Maiden like feel. Still, the music sort of comes and goes, feeling like a metallic klesmer. It shifts out to a different riff and carries forward from there and then the opening riff returns. This short instrumental is a great introduction to the disc.
Tiger! Tiger!
With a riff driven motif that reminds me of a more metallic Captain Beyond, this is a cool number. Some of the lyrics to this tune are variants on William Blake’s immortal poem “The Tiger.” In fact, the title is the opening of that poem. We get some extremely tasty guitar soloing on this killer classic metal styled jam. At times the melodic textures of the guitar sound here remind me of Thin Lizzy.
The Sea Wolf
This has a killer classic sound that again reminds me a bit of Thin Lizzy. It’s got more of a metal edge than Lynott’s band ever did, but much of the construction and delivery seems similar to Thin Lizzy.
Hardworlder
A more pure metal approach – still old school metal, though – makes up this track. This has a meaty and very tasty musical texture and an extended introduction. The verse section reminds me a bit of Iron Maiden and when it explodes out after the verse its pure metallic ecstasy. This tune is one of my favorites on the disc – and as good as the rest of the material is, that says a lot.
The Spoils
Coming straight out the previous piece, this one feels a lot like Iron Maiden. World music type progressions are heard on this number, as well and portions have an Eastern tinge to them.

Frankfurt-Hahn Airport Blues
Once again, this track comes out of the one that preceded it. This is a fast paced, metallic grind that reminds me a lot of Motorhead. I also hear early Priest on this, particularly in the cool guitar soloing that punctuates the verses. In fact, a lot of this reminds me quite a bit of Stained Class and Hell Bent For Leather.
Galactic Nomad
Picture the Allman Brothers jamming with Rush and doing it with metallic crunch. OK, is that image firmly planted in your mind? Good, then you are listening to this instrumental. That pretty well describes it.
Dearg Doom
Originally performed by Horslips, this is a powerhouse rocker with a bit of a Celtic texture to it. It’s kind of back in the direction of Thin Lizzy again. You know, you just have to give bonus points to anyone who covers as obscure an act as Horslips. We get some cool rock and roll guitar at times on this one, too.
Insomnia
Once again Motorhead comes to mind on this killer grind. Mind you, that sound is mixed with Maiden and other textures here. The section where they drop the speed back is a cool touch. I like the epic sort of texture that ensues when they add non-lyrical vocals to the top of that mixture.
Poisoned Treasures
An incredibly meaty riff leads this one off in fine classic rock meets metal style. They shift it out more to fast paced metal that has links to the sounds of Iron Maiden after a while. The slower segment that enters later is nice, too. This is another killer retro textured metal tune, but by this point we wouldn’t expect anything else.
Karma-Kazee
Somehow this reminds me a bit of Judas Priest’s “Island of Domination.” Still there are other elements and just a hint of an Eastern tinge at times on this. It’s a fairly slow piece, but very tasty. Around the three minute mark an explosion heralds a shift to a Maiden like grind. We get an instrumental segment that feels like Thin Lizzy does metal. The guitar solo segment that follows is rather Celtic.


Whirling Vortex
This short instrumental is an off-kilter metal masterpiece. These guys just spin their musical web with the ultimate in taste and style.
Street Jammer
The closer is the second cover of the disc and this time they turn their attention to Manilla Road. This is yet another scorching track on a CD that’s full of them.
 
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