Album Review

Album Review: Red Fang – Whales and Leeches

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 4:06 PM (PST)
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This record doesn’t really need any more press, considering it was one of the most anticipated of in recent muddy memory. I should be telling you to check out the newest from Nhor or Wolfheart…but still, Metal Riot has to chime in, since we are (dare I say) a somewhat reputable and popular site for all things hairy, hoary and goat whoring. It is hard to judge Red Fang on their own merits, because they are so hyped. If any band kind of gets saddled with the pressure to be the next Mastodon, Red Fang have sort of inherited the burden through sheer popularity. Let’s face it, imposing expectations on a band like that is kind of unfair and demanding. And God/The Devil/Gaia forbid a great band does get more popular, like The Sword. It often means they are subject to bitter, keyboard cowboy potshots. Sometimes this type of attitude leads to bands being more similar or insular, protected by stylistic similarity. Other times it means someone rebels and breaks the mold more.

In the case of Red Fang 3.0, they return hard with more rock n’ roll centric sludge metal, a fairly accessible but nonetheless non-pussified and burly sound that is impossible for bearded young men and women with IPA’s in hand to resist. Whales and Leeches isn’t as manic as their debut or Murder The Mountains but is probably better than both overall. There is no “Wires” but there are plenty of cuts that will stick to you like gorilla snot. “Blood Like Cream” was a great choice for a single, a mentally ill and obsessive feeling celebration that is kinda garagey. My favorite of the album is track #3, the Black Flag-level rollicking “No Hope”, with a simple bar fight bassline to kill for. When Red Fang buckle down and just plain deliver, it is the kind of straight pay off that explains their popularity. Now if more of their fans would discover similarly riff-centric and rocking albums like Castle’s fucking awesome Blacklands or the more doomy and emotionally draining but cathartic Lumbar record (for example), I’d be stoked.

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“Failure” is the kind of gloomy, post-grunge gnarly mid-tempo churl that sort of dissapeared for ten years or more. Red Fang remind me of a more current Tad, if they somehow got popular decades later. “Voices Of the Dead” probably rocks live but on disc is one of the flatter cuts. It has balls but isn’t as urgent as, say, Black Tusk’s recent stellar Tend No Wounds EP or the mostly superior, similar genre Relapse debut from recent Fang tourmates Lord Dying.Fang are more party vs. Lord Dying’s darker aesthetics, but I can see why they get compared (since I am also doing it). “Dawn Rising” shows how muscular and downright punchy Red Fang can be, and I am sure fans will love the crushing kick ass fucking plodding and boring (in a good way) verse doom riff the band drop into at 40 seconds into the jam.Honestly, this is a cool ass record and the best thing people could do is hope this band has longevity. Red Fang could be the kind of tent pole band who actually don’t suck, long as they keep up the quality. Now back to my regularly scheduled Depeche Mode and “Temptation” New Order consumption.


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