You know that guy who works in your company: you're sure his name is Ted because other people have mentioned it, and you've seen him around the office dozens of times, but the grand total of your actual interaction with him was one silent elevator ride that day you pulled in to work at the same time? Well that's Slough Feg for me. So if you're a fan and you want to know how this stacks up relative to their previous releases, sorry but I have no clue.
When the first song came on, I encountered a goofy, energetic tune that sounded to me like a less manic version of System of a Down. As the final track rolled, I suddenly realized that I was practically listening to an Iron Maiden tribute band. The eight songs in-between complete that transition one step at a time. It's all filtered through the lens of traditional heavy metal, but those bands and that transition between them were what occupied my mind as I listened to this.
The production is nice and clear, letting you hear everything but stopping short of sparkling bubble-gum pop levels of polish. The songwriting is solid and carries the album through a natural progression that avoids growing stale while also never feeling like the changes are distracting or forced. The clean, slightly odd-sounding heavy metal vocals work well throughout and provide most of the distinct character in the band's sound. The guitar shows a pretty broad range of clean and distorted tones, with shifting approaches to riffing that largely carry the flow of the album from one sound to another. Sometimes it gives chunky basic riffs, while at other times it's choppy and aggressive. Still other occasions call for fluttering clean section or dramatic power metal soloing, all of which work really well in their own places. The bass is a contributor at times, though it is largely the least noticeable aspect of the music. The drumming is solid but fairly standard for the most part, though the rumbling beat on "Habeas Corpsus" is a notable example of a track that is largely driven by the drums.
There's really nothing wrong with this album as far as I can tell. It's one of those records, though, that while very respectable, lacks that "it factor" to really make it stand out from the crowd. I enjoyed it, but my entire opinion could be summed up quite neatly with the simple phrase "it's good". It's not amazing, it's not going to inspire me to gush about the band's brilliance, but it is a good album. I'm curious, for my own edification, how it holds up relative to their other work. But since I can't comment on that at this time, I can only say to the rest of the uninitiated that if you like traditional heavy metal and you're looking for a new album to listen to, this is a solid choice.