"Murder the Mountains"

by Earthdog

Portland’s Red Fang are about to release their second album for Relapse and it is a tighter, more sleeker sounding Red Fang this time around. Red Fang are not newbies to the scene, they have been around for close to 7 years but you could be forgiven for thinking they are just repeating the hipster formula made popular by the likes of Mastodon, Baroness and Kylesa. The truth is, Red Fang are a great band at what they do, they just don't do anything not done before by many other bands. The line-up of Bryan Giles (Last of the Juanitas, Party Time), Aaron Beam (Dark Forces, Lachrymator), David Sullivan (Party Time, facedowninshit, Shiny Beast) and John Sherman (Party Time, Bad Wizard, Trumans Water, All Night) are one hell of a tight unit and they have some fuzzy, sludgy, psychedelic, down-tuned riffing to loosen the bowels but if you are like me, you may feel like something is lightening the load when they should pushing into the other 'heavier' direction.

The overwhelming pop-sensibility takes away some of the impact but this still kicks major ass in all the right places, most of the time. Musically, there is little difference in Red Fang's approach with this and the band's debut. The main difference is in the production of Chris Funk (The Decemberists) and mixing of Vance Powell (Kings of Leon, White Stripes, Raconteurs). This sounds more polished overall and dare I say it, reminds me of the kind of sound that Queens Of The Stone Age gets only this is much heavier.  The songs are also more layered this time around from the stoner-metal version of a power-ballad that is 'The Undertow' to the very Melvins sounding 'Throw Up.' Some of it is riff-driven stoner-metal as in the single 'Wires' and this is where the band really shines for me. The rest of the album is good  but it doesn't really do anything to differentiate itself from many other bands and it sometimes seems like Red Fang are just recycling something that might be getting a little bit tired and long in the tooth these days.

However, Red Fang do unleash some doom-laden riffage and if 'stoner-metal' is supposed to be the marriage of doom-metal and psychedelic rock then I guess that is what Red Fang have nailed in one on 'Murder the Mountains.' The pop-edge I mentioned earlier refers to the extremely catchy songs this album has, this band is closer to Monster Magnet than it is Electric Wizard. There is still aggression in these grooves but the songs carry a message,  not just a series of gloomy ramblings but without getting too intellectual about anything. Basically this is a kick-ass rock and roll record made for cranking loud and enjoying over a few cold brews. It won't change the world but I can't find anything to gripe about either, this is solid stuff from start to finish no matter how you look at it.......8/10