Show ReviewsSlough Feg, Sanhedrin, and Icarus Witch Hex Pittsburgh! (6/4/2019)

Darren Lewis1 year ago4348 min

Slough Feg have no parallel in modern metal. They take the obscure gems of the NWOBHM and use them to build new suits of armor while lead by a philosopher/axe warrior/brainac cult leader. I was both mesmerized and astonished by Slough Feg at 2014’s edition of the Alehorn of Power festival in Chicago. Meeting frontman/guitarist Mike Scalzi was like having a brush with a hero of myth. Trying to photograph him was like trying to capture an image of a cryptid. That they would be playing Pittsburgh nearly 5 years later was a miracle. That it would end at 1 a.m. on a weeknight made it a trial for only the heartiest and Crom-fearing hessians. Record label owner, Horehound vocalist, and concert promoter Shy Kennedy was testing our mettle (metal?), if you will.

Icarus Witch cast the first spear, shining with a swift set of proggy power metal that touched on the band’s back catalogue as well as their latest album, the Crimson Glory-bound masterpiece Goodbye Cruel World. Singer/multi-instrumentalist Andrew D’Cagna, whose resume includes such acts as Ironflame and Brimstone Coven, displayed his vocal chops as dutifully and precise as he does whichever weapon he chooses to wield on any given night. The rest of the band were very much “on” as well, treating this small, scarcely-attended gig at Spirit Lodge in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood as if it were the Gods of Metal festival. I’ve seen and written about them on numerous occasions, and they’ve yet to play half-wittedly with blunted swords. Always ready for war, Icarus Witch are the true local champions who will stand on the frontline when Ragnarok comes our way.

Brooklyn natives Sanhedrin were lying in wait and struck with the fury of time-tossed medieval crusaders. This triumvirate of new traditionalists conjured up the NWOBHM as if they lived it for themselves. The vocals of band chief and bassist Erica Stoltz had a purity of scorn to them not unlike Sinergy’s Kim Goss. Axeman Jeremy Sosville and drummer Nathan Honor filled out the band with their elegant musicianship. Satan, Demon, and Phantom Blue were all gloriously invoked in one swirling, gothic ceremony.

Bi-coastal headliners Slough Feg didn’t take the stage until nearly midnight, which was when the show was to conclude, but their hour-long set managed to be as epic as the comic book tales that inspired their name, the quartet managing to span their entire career with selections from the latest album, New Organon, battling alongside classic tracks such as “Asteroid Belts,” “Traders and Gunboats,” “Eumaeus The Swineherd,” and concert closer “Tiger! Tiger!” Yet again, Mike Scalzi was a guitar Olympian, as agile as a cat, and was as much a virtuoso on the strings as well as he is as a singer. The genius of Devin Townsend came to mind as if there could be anyone else to compare him to. But imagine Devin becoming obsessed with Manilla Road at an impressionable age. “Ahhh,” you say.

New drummer Jeff Griffin proved as worthy as longtime members Adrian Maestas and Angelo Tringali, all four men turning Slough Feg into a formidable group that could be afforded more recognition in musician’s circles. Complex, intelligent, entertaining songs were sent dashing through the early summer evening air. Slough Feg are prolific enough have material for a set three times as long, but aye, we were weary and burdened with daylight responsibilities…

They are the band that should be whispered about a la Budgie in the seventies. They are the clandestine band whose songs should be covered by acts much larger than they. They are as uncommon as a comet’s passing and as unusual and eerily magnificent as foxfire. They are Slough Feg. When next they will darken our streets we will never know. May their legend only grow…

Darren Lewis

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