Released: 2010, Profound Lore
Slough Feg have settled down on the small but respected Profound Lore Records label, run by ex-BW&BK staffer Chris Bruni. Chris has an ear for metal with purity of vision (and talent) so it makes sense that Scalzi and Bruni would work together well.
THE ANIMAL SPIRITS is album # 8 for Slough Feg and it is surprisingly low-key. That is not to say poor by any means, but just lower key. The packaging is quite plain, no photos, only lyrics to one song and the usual vibrant artwork is absent. The packaging is quite different with a different card stock and an appealing, almost medieval layout and font…with Scalzi himself providing the crude sketch for the cover art. It all works together. I guess it was time to let the music do the talking.
I would suggest that THE ANIMAL SPIRITS is one of the bands least ‘Metal’ albums. There is a stronger 70’s vibe in the music this time around. There is also an interesting choice of cover, namely something from the Alan Parsons Project which fits nicely. Finding the rock muse is the strength of this record as it is a little less frantic and driven than some of the their earlier works. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to Mike on a couple of occasions and he has suggested to me that not much of the newer metal is exciting him these days. I got the impression he might even want to or try to distance himself from the whole ‘Metal’ genre and just make heavy music that he loves. I also get the impression that this record is one of the first steps in that direction.
I’m not suggesting it is not sonically heavy, but THE ANIMAL SPIRITS nimbly side-steps some of the norms and conventions of the genre, avoiding some of the potential clichés. The guitar tone is just really thick and chewy and rides nicely alongside the big drum sounds, lots of toms, lots of rolls, lots of fills, an excellent performance by Harry Cantwell. The whole record has a big boomy sound, great, full production, not too clean or sterile. The whole album chugs and churns along, with great songs, catchy and rhythmic, punctuated with some elegant soloing.
The clever lyrics are still very much in place and for those of you who do follow lyrics you’ll be amused at very least with the quick wit and smart turns of phrase. It took several listens for me to fully embrace this album. My initial impressions were that the record was a bit too mellow but over time it really found it’s groove. I’d been listening to a bunch of 90’s Death Metal lately so in contrast (in my mind) THE ANIMAL SPIRITS was not what I’d expected but after setting it aside for a few weeks and revisiting it, I can really, really dig the 70’s groove and feel. This is classic Hard Rock/Metal of the highest order.