The Lord Weird Slough Feg mix classic metal with philosophy on mind-tangling ‘New Organon’

The reasons for a band making new record can be a million-fold from a natural process the players have set out, to wanting to have a reason to go tour, to wanting to make some extra money. Totally kidding about that last part. Pretty sure no one’s doing it for that reason anymore. But other artists need very specific needs met before they unleash new music on the public.

Long-running classic heavy metal band The Lord Weird Slough Feg (they’re added the “Lord Weird” back to their name after many years) never have been your ordinary group, and their motivations are not the same as everyone else. So, when it came time to create the music that would make up their 10th album “New Organon,” they didn’t just want to crank out two handfuls of songs and just go with it. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi, himself busy enough at his job as a professor of Philosophy at a California college, discusses in the bio materials accompanying the music the process of creating and working and destroying songs that they just didn’t feel and only choosing to present the songs that made them feel excited and want to commit the tracks to permanence. Add to that, Scalzi dug into his own class notes for lyrical inspiration, and the album title itself is a reference to English philosopher Francis Bacon’s 1620 book of the same name calling for a revolution in scientific method, as he felt work had grown stagnant. It’s heady stuff presented by the band—rounded out by guitarist Angelo Tringali, bassist Adrian Maestas, and new drummer Jeff Griffin (he shared studio duties with John Dust)—on this riff-driven, story-filled 10-track, 37-minute record that’s brimming with majesty and power.

“Headhunter” gets the record off to a big start with strong riffs and Scalzi’s gravelly vocals noting, “Sunken heads piled to the sky.” As the track moves on, he wails, “Whispered prayers forgotten as they fall,” as the chorus launches, and the track is off to a steady gallop that reprises the first verses before blistering out. “Discourse of Equality” has pummeling riffs as Scalzi scolds, singing about the “chains of misery” as the pace stomps along. The leads charge as wild howls enter the mix, all ending in fire. “The Apology” has a driving bassline and is the first of a few with a nice folkish backbone, even though its heavy as hell. Scalzi sings of imprisoned philosopher Socrates waiting as execution nears, with a strong chorus sending power. The Romans make Socrates drink hemlock, wailing, “Off with his head,” as the track comes to a wiry finish. “Being & Nothingness” is super charged out of the gates, with cool dual guitar melodies and Scalzi opining, “Existence is my crime.” The guitars band together, and killer soloing lights up and heads into the night. The title cut is a stomping fury from the start, digging into Bacon’s text, with Scalzi calling, “The sum of my knowledge will conquer the earth.” Soloing erupts and bleeds over the track, with things seemingly coming to an end, only to ramp up again for another charge.

“Sword of Machiavelli” has a start-stop beginning, weirder vocals, and a folkish punch right in the gut. “One victim of Mephistopheles, one victim to die by the sword,” Scalzi howls amid guitars sprawling, the low-end chewing, and a mad cackle to take things out. “Uncanny” lands punches with some nice double-kick drum action, and the singing is uncharacteristically higher than usual. There also are heavy waves of nostalgia simply from them stoking fires from the ’70s, soloing aggravated the senses, and the guitars rise and leave together. “Coming of Age in the Milky Way” has a warm, psychedelic haze washing over, a playful vibe, and Scalzi wailing, “Survival’s my only crime,” calling back to a similar line from “Being & Nothingness,” though I’m not sure that’s intended. Soloing slices in and glows, while the path is ground beneath them. “Exegesis – Tragic Hooligan” has a spirited opening, classic guitar work, and Scalzi poking, “You painted the scene when you were so green, now the colors you chose seem so obscene,” amid melodies that feel a little sad, even despite moments of glory. Closer “The Cynic” is a total curveball, as the band sinks into a 1960s-style melody, and a poppy one, that they work into their metallics. The track feels like a proper show ender, with Scalzi calling, “I tried to imitate myself causing pain,” as the emotion builds, and the track breezes away.

The Lord Weird Slough Feg have made some of the most honest, traditional heavy metal over their nearly 30 years together, and “New Organon” is another strong blast from a band that seemingly is immune to trends. Remaining true to their artistic senses paid off for them again, and this record is punchy and a blast to visit repeatedly as these stories work their way into your head. No one sounds quite like them, and that’s for the best as it would be foolish to try to top them at their game.

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