Released: 2011, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Building off of some positive buzz around their indie self-titled debut, Portland’s Red Fang have earned some well deserved praise in the 2 years since its release. Generally lumped into the stoner/doom hierarchy, the Red Fang sound encompasses big 70’s rock hooks with sludgy psychedelia, living somewhere between Mastodon, The Melvins, and Kyuss. Newly signed to Relapse Records, the band is preparing for the release of their second proper full length, MURDER THE MOUNTAINS. And judging by the ten tracks on the album, you should prepare yourself to hear more praise for Red Fang.
Like a lumbering sasquatch on a codeine high, MURDER THE MOUNTAINS is a heavy beast of an album. Dirty as swamp water and catchier than most of the glut on rock radio, it’s a sludgy chimera of sorts. With Aaron Beam and Maurice Bryan Giles splitting vocal duties throughout each track on the album, they share kind of a Paul Stanley/Gene Simmons style relationship. Beam’s the “singer” in the band and Giles has a grittier, woke up on the bathroom floor of whatever bar I’m in growl. Musically, MURDER THE MOUNTAINS shares this same sort of dichotomy. “Malverde,” “Dirt Wizard” and “Into the Eye” are obtuse, angry rockers while “Hank is Dead,” “Painted Parade,” and the ridiculously sing-able “Wires” are more balanced head nodders and hip swingers. And collectively everything makes sense – seamless and heavy, through and through.
Compared to the band’s 2009 opus, MURDER THE MOUNTAINS is a wee bit more daring and experimental, but no less powerful. Whereas the debut was a bit more straightforward stoner rock, the diversity of the tracks on MURDER THE MOUNTAINS gives them more of a unique identity and more importantly, it sounds more natural for the band. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t write a Pink Floyd record, but it’s the details that make the difference, this new album benefits from the attention to those details.
I recently saw Red Fang live on the Metalliance tour, and these guys are no joke. As good as they sound in the studio, they’re exponentially better on stage. The band has also scored an opening slot on the upcoming Rockstar Mayhem tour alongside a cadre of huge acts. I’d imagine beyond that they’ll be in full tour mode to promote the new album, so aside from purchasing MURDER THE MOUNTAINS when it drops on April 12th you’d be wise to catch ‘em live too. Yeah, it’s a shameless plug for a hardworking band, but so what...If the stars align, Red Fang could possibly be the next big thing to break out from the Relapse roster, and deservedly so. MURDER THE MOUNTAINS is top notch stuff, check it out before everyone else does.