Wednesday, March 9, 2011
[theobelisk.net] There are hints of rock-era Entombed to be heard on “Malverde,” the first track on Red Fang’s Relapse Records debut, Murder the Mountains. The four-piece, who hail from the exalted grounds of Portland, Oregon, meld heavier-end stoner guitar-focus with Melvins crunch on that track and elsewhere on the album, the dueling vocals of guitarist Bryan Giles (mostly growling) and bassist Aaron Beam (mostly clean) providing variety over material that ranges musically from newer-school heavy progressive melodicism to all-out riff-metal abandon. Red Fang’s last album, a 2009 self-titled released on Sargent House, earned much acclaim for its heavy sounds and the comical video the band made for the track “Prehistoric Dog,” and with high-profile touring in the works alongside names like Saint Vitus and Megadeth for 2011, Red Fang is a safe bet for a band who’s going to come out of this year much bigger than they went into it. Fortunately for those who, like myself, are sticklers for this kind of thing, the Chris Funk-produced and Vance Powell-mixed Murder the Mountains has the chops to earn the band every bit of the acclaim/hype they get.
Aside from virtually guaranteeing Red Fang cred in the hipster circuit, what attaching names like Funk (who produced The Decemberists) and the mightily-bearded Powell (who won a Grammy for engineering The Raconteurs’ album) to Murder the Mountains does is give the band more of a reach than they’d have if they worked with someone strictly limited to the heavier end of the spectrum. The difference between a lot of heavy rock and indie is mostly in the thickness of the guitars and bass and the presence of the drums in the mix. John Sherman’s drums show up here sounding natural and more than accounted for mix-wise, both Giles’ and fellow guitarist David Sullivan are given suitable heft tonally, and Beam’s bass tone on songs like “Number Thirteen” and the immediately accessible “Wires” makes for some of Murder the Mountains’ best listening. Little flourishes like the feedback off the snare on “Malverde” are interesting turns, and Red Fang are by no means suffering from not being “heavy enough,” whatever standard might be used to measure that.
The aforementioned “Wires” is one of several very catchy cuts – the crunchier “Into the Eye” and closer “Human Herd” also come to mind – that show ample growth in Red Fang’s songwriting since the self-titled (which wasn’t short of memorable tracks either), and there are a couple moments like that toward the end of “Throw Up” or the non-chorus of the opener where everything seems to take a back seat to “hey, check out this fucking awesome riff we came up with,” which is a nice touch to “Throw Up” especially, fading in, the whole band coming back, etc. Sherman’s drums are plodding but still active, finding a brief solo to open the shorter “Painted Parade.” Red Fang work in a number of modes on Murder the Mountains – perhaps speaking to multiple contributors in the writing or at very least a general open-mindedness – and the straightforward crush that comes forward on “Painted Parade” is most welcome, Beam’s vocals seeming to bridge a gap there where one might expect Giles to take the lead spot.
READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW HERE.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 7:58 PM