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.
Ape Uprising! Review
by Eduardo Rivadavia