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Ape Uprising!

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Album Review

2009's Ape Uprising! is Slough Feg's third album since dropping the first half of their moniker (they were formerly known as the Lord Weird Slough Feg); their second since leader Mike Scalzi's creative divorce from longtime sparring partner, guitarist John Cobbett (who departed to focus on his own pet project, Hammers of Misfortune); and the first to see their new lineup really firing on all cylinders. Not that 2005's philosophical back-to-basics, Atavism, nor 2007's sci-fi inspired Hardworlder were remotely wasted efforts, mind you; both were just focused on technical displays of musicianship and interconnected song snippets, more so than the substantial, fully realized songwriting to be found on Ape Uprising! And so, true to its title, "The Hunchback of Notre Doom" finds Slough Feg perfectly at home in unusually deliberate mode before roaring into more archetypal galloping tempos for tracks like "Overborne" and the almost Ted Nugent-like "Shakedown at the Six." Another highlight, "Simian Manifesto," is so reminiscent of Teutonic heavy prog from the early '70s (think Lucifer's Friend, Blackwater Park, Night Sun, etc.) that the imagination actually conjures up phantom organ sounds that aren't really there, as a matter of instinct. Similarly retro (even by Slough Feg standards), the acoustic guitar infused "White Cousin" sounds somewhat displaced, at first, until its Celtic-flavored dual lead harmonies gradually increase familiarity — especially for fans old enough to remember the Lord Weird days. Having raved about all of this, though, one must admit that the ten-minute tile track does feel decidedly bloated by comparison; and the closing, ‘80s flavored heavy rock summer anthem "Nasty Hero" seems like an ill-advised joke until a thrash-fueled finale and some spine-tingling guitar work have a chance to prove its mettle. Speaking of guitar work, the fluid chops of second lead six-stringer Angelo Tringali mesh telepathically with Scalzi's throughout the album (hear them simply wail on "Ape Outro" and the aforementioned "Nasty Hero"), finally helping fans forget the departed Cobbett. Indeed, since the newfangled Slough Feg are clearly not going anywhere, having evidently regained Scalzi's full commitment, Ape Uprising! gives off every indication of signaling the a new golden era of groundbreaking revisionist metal for the group.

Customer Reviews

Great new album and new-ish direction

This band is criminally overlooked.

On Ape Uprising, SF continue to evolve and add new dimensions to their sound. The album begins with a genuine doom song (The Hunchback of Notre Doom...can we fix the spelling, iTunes?). It's an odd way to start the album, but it makes complete sense in the context of what this band does. From there they explore their rock side (Shakedown at the Six) while not straying too far from their metal roots (the epic title track). they even throw in a radio single at the end with Nasty Hero. SF fans may be divided on this one, but I think they've finally written their "Livin' After Midnight," albeit with a way cooler ending.

Slough Feg have been around for almost 20 years in various incarnations, which makes it all the more amazing and commendable that they continue to put out records that are of this quality. Of course it wouldn't be a new SF record without a lineup change, this time coming in the form of new drummer Harry Cantwell, who really stands out on this record. The group has never sounded tighter, and here's hoping this lineup persists through at least a few albums.

The only drawback to the record is that some songs were clearly recorded at different times (particularly Overborne) and on different equipment, which hurts the cohesiveness of the sound.

Essential tracks: Ape Uprising, Simian Manifesto, Shakedown at the Six


Formed: 1990 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

After ten years and four albums released under the mouthful of a name that was the Lord Weird Slough Feg, San Francisco's cutting-edge revisionist heavy metal band led by vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi shortened their moniker to simply Slough Feg before the release of their fifth studio album, Atavism, in 2005. At the time, the group also consisted of longtime guitarist John Cobbett (a frequent Scalzi collaborator, most notably with cult prog metal ensemble Hammers of Misfortune) and drummer Greg...
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Ape Uprising!, Slough Feg
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