Records of the Week With Jon and Ted #2
Each Friday, Editors Ted Nubel and Jon Rosenthal will share their picks for Records of the Week — not necessarily what's out this week, just whatever's on our mind or on our record players.
I avoided Slough Feg for the longest time, and I honestly cannot remember why: for one, I think the album art of Hardworlder just looked like something I wouldn't enjoy, and when I started using Spotify the app tried its damn best to recommend that particular album to me, increasing my annoyance. Well, as it turns out, machines know more than men, because Hardworlder, and the rest of Slough Feg's excellent output, is the long-sought answer to a need I didn't know I had: traditional heavy metal with a hard rock edge, compelling harmonies, and a little bit of self-awareness.
I'm probably not alone in being late to the Slough Feg party; they tend to be a contentious and perpetually underrated band. Changing their name for a spell didn't help any, and neither did being a traditional metal band releasing their most acclaimed works in the 2000s—not a great time for bands that weren't nu-metal, metalcore, or on a Guitar Hero soundtrack. I actually came across Traveller, which predates Hardworlder, first. It's also fantastic, but is more of an epic space-opera concept album -- the hard rock, kind of Thin Lizzy atmosphere of Hardworlder was, at the point in time I heard it, just unmatchable.
The title track's unusual melodies and galloping riffs are not to be missed, and neither are the covers (including Manilla Road's "Street Jammer"). I also have a soft spot for the somewhat-meta "Frankfurt-Hahn Airport Blues," which is one of those kickass rock tracks written about logistical difficulties.
When All the Laughter Has Gone
This is a really, truly special album. Dolorian's emotive, dark, dark, dark take on black/doom metal draws heavily from ambient music and atmospheric sounds to make its point, which ultimately makes sense as two thirds of this band ended up crafting ambient music under the Arktau Eos moniker. When All the Laughter Has Gone's heavy sounds are peculiarly discordant, but has these cascading keyboard melodies and horrific shrieks which really draw it together. There is a strong emotional center which fuels this album, and even now the band refuses to divulge what is said during When All the Laughter Has Gone's whispered passages over 20 years later. Though others might recommend Voidwards or their self-titled album before this one, I find When All the Laughter Has Gone to be Dolorian's finest hour. I've heard rumors that an album is essentially ready, but who knows if they will ever actually finish it.