John Cobbett was the anchor for a few "retro" groups based in San Francisco.
The Lord Weird Slough Feg, fronted by metal baritone Mike Scalzi, harked back to the "heroic" style of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden on the mini-album The Lord Weird Slough Feg (1996) and the Celtic concept Twilight Of The Idols (1999), perfecting it into their own moderate, melodic format on Down Among The Deadmen (2000). The sci-fi concept Traveller (2003) and Atavism (2005) were old-fashioned but formally impeccable. Hardworlder (2007), with Angelo Tringali of Cold Mourning replacing John Cobbett, sounded (more than ever) like a tribute to the hard rock of the 1970s, excelling in the lengthy instrumental Galactic Nomad.
The Unholy Cadaver recorded one session in 1997 that would be released only
14 years later on
Unholy Cadaver (Shadow Kingdom, 2011), containing
the 15-minute Hammers Of Misfortune. That became the new name of the
The Hammers of Misfortune harked back to keyboards-based prog-metal with the rock opera The Bastard (2001), featuring the dueling male-female vocals of The Lord Weird Slough Feg's vocalist Mike Scalzi and Stone Fox's bassist Janis Tanaka. After the elegant The August Engine (2003) and the sociopolitical The Locust Years (2006), they
replaced Scalzi with Patrick Goodwin and
incorporated vocalist Jesse Quattro and keyboardist Sigrid Sheie for the double album Fields/Church of Broken Glass (2008), maintaining a political stance, a predilection for operatic tones and
the male-female counterpoint.
Ludicra, a quintet fronted by two women (Christy Cather and Laurie Sue), displayed the influence of post-rock and space-rock on their Hollow Psalms (2002), while Another Great Love Song (2004) and Fex Urbis Lex Orbis (2006) adopted a smoother sound.
The double-disc The Slay Stack Grows (Shadow Kingdom, 2009)
contains early demos and live recordings.
Ape Uprising (Cruz Del Sur, 2009) and
The Animal Spirits (Profound Lore, 2010),
credited just to
Slough Feg, were Scalzi's most accessible works yet.
17th Street (Metal Blade, 2011), with Scalzi replaced by Joe Hutton and Leila Abdul-Rauf on second guitar, tried to sell
Hammers Of Misfortune's agit-prop pop-metal to a bigger audience via the
catchy The Grain and the piano ballad Summer Tears.
Ludicra continued its descent into a more professional sound with
The Tenant (Profound Lore, 2010), highlighted by
slower rhythms, vocal harmonies and sophisticated arrangements.
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