Release Date: Oct 15, 2013
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Stoner Metal
On their third album, Red Fang unleash an album hell-bent on taking the world back to a time before stoner metal got lost in outer space with Whales and Leeches. Offering up a skuzzier, more thoroughly beer-soaked and shirtless take on early Mastodon, the Portland, Oregon band deliver an album that manages to get psychedelic without abandoning the non-stop riff-fests that made their first two albums such a welcome change of pace. This allows the album to operate on two levels, making it as perfect to listen to at a raging house party as it is while lying on the floor and contemplating the subtle nuances of a black light poster.
There's a soft, almost jolly quality to a great deal of metallic stoner rock, a kind of introspectiveness and sweater-soft fuzz that can gentle the sludgy stomp. Red Fang make no pretence toward tenderness with their third full-length, Whales & Leeches, openly looking to crush and lacerate. "Blood Like Cream" revels in a positively gory sensuality, luxuriating in phrases like "paint your lips with blood." "Failure" transitions from driving, martial drumming to an oozing, lugubrious trudge of betrayal, raw and vengeful.
Portland, OR's Red Fang get by on pure unadulterated rock n' roll badassery. They don't have the clearly defined pop sensibilities of Torche, the experimental streak of Kylesa, or the chameleon-like abilities of Baroness. Since 2009, they've been delivering their own special brand of sludge metal that sounds best when cranked to 11, with smiles on their faces and tongues in their cheeks.
Review Summary: A joyous, if not entirely consistent stab of stoner rock fury.It's peculiar that Portland-based Red Fang have gained audacity primarily due to the three hilarious clips directed by Whitey McConnaughy of Jackass notoriety. It seems that music videos are still a powerful art form prone to attract the listener's attention, at least if they're so gloriously goofy as McConnaughy's work which ideally encapsulates Red Fang's brazen, beer-soaked brand of stoner rock. The quartet's Relapse Records debut Murder the Mountains stood out with its expert symbiosis of potent riffs, punk energy and infectious melodies, but also hinted at a more adventurous and far-reaching approach to songwriting.
In an age where band-endorsed dildos and burgers topped with communion wafers are used as a means of promotion and shit-stirring, what chance has a blue-collared band got? Gimmickry and theatrics have always been an essential part of metal, but as bands, such as Ghost, perfect their eye-rollin’ schtick and soak up a lot of the press’s attention, this affects the exposure of grass-roots groups down the chain that only have the music they create to rely on. (In a perfect world this would be all you’d need for success, even though spectacle can be a welcome distraction, if it’s backed by strong songs. )Red Fang is one of those “blue-collared” bands.
Red Fang did not set out to be fine. The first song on their 2008 self-titled debut was a bleary-eyed, pop-metal pummel called “Prehistoric Dog”, a hilarious and juvenile burst about alien canines bound for earth on a mission of extinction. “They will erase the human race,” went the perfect and perfectly stupid gambit. “Time to kiss your ass goodbye.” In the video for the surprise hit, Red Fang jammed the song repeatedly in a tiny kitchen, waged war against Renaissance Faire agitators, and shot-gunned beer cans until they all vomited on camera, almost in unison.
Red Fang rose to prominence off the back of three vivid slices of video idiocy (videocy?) whilst promoting their Relapse debut Murder the Mountains. Directed by Whitey McConnaughy, of Jackass notoriety, the cuts for 'Prehistoric Dog', 'Wires' and 'Hank is Dead' featured the zany antics of our cartoonishly rendered, Pabst Blue Ribbon swilling road warriors, be they donning suits of armour fashioned from beer cans to do battle with nerds, arbitrating booze sodden air guitar contests, vomiting in sync or smashing into various household goods with a reinforced station wagon. They worked perfectly as mindless eye candy to hold your attention while their raucous brand of perma-stoned riff rock worked its irresistible hooks under your skin.