Slough Feg's Hardworlder

Badass sci-fi metal that it's finally cool to listen to

If you want to get a good idea where Slough Feg singer-guitarist Mike Scalzi is coming from, check out the graphic novel Slaine: The Berserker, whose main villain, based on a demon lord from Irish oral mythology, is named the Lord Weird Slough Feg. According to legend, he lives in a cave and scrawls stories and visions on the walls, oblivious to the outside world; that's pretty much what Slough Feg the band has been doing since the early '90s, oblivious to trends and waiting for the world to catch up with them. Now that metal is considered cool again, it's as though they've emerged from an underground cave—or, more accurately, a practice space under a Walgreen's on Haight Street in San Francisco—to become time-traveling metal warriors.

No matter how geeky concept albums based on comic books, Celtic mythology, and outer-space role-playing games might sound on paper, these guys will make you believe that they live it. Hardwolder songs like "Tiger! Tiger!" and the instrumental "Galactic Nomad" invoke the epic sci-fi novels of Alfred Bester; the fierce, shredding twin-guitar attack, backed by galloping drums and combined with sometimes frightening, sometimes epic, often intentionally silly lyrics, makes comparisons to Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy unavoidable. Picture the amphetamine-addled spirit of Phil Lynott entering the body of Slaine the Celtic barbarian and driving a tank down a crowded street on Friday night while holding a flaming guitar over his head. Then listen to the song "Streetjammer," wherein Scalzi yells, "My stereo is cranked to the max!" You will have no choice but to take him completely seriously.

 
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