Red Fang’s debut album was a bold statement of heaviness. The Portland, OR quartet combined the crushing low end of sludge, the sprawling guitar fuzz of stoner rock, and blistering crunch of grunge to put them at the forefront of alternative metal’s next generation. The guys spent time in a slew of reputable bands before forming the mighty Red Fang, helping their debut sound as though they were grizzled veterans whom had been playing together for ages. In reality however, they were only getting started, and anticipation for their second album continued to grow as the band found a new home at one of metal’s most prestigious institutions, Relapse Records. Backed by a new label and a grueling tour schedule, Red Fang unleashed Murder The Mountains, a proud and brutal exploration of psychedelic sludge and bong ripped stoner fury. Their duel vocal approach sets Red Fang apart from the pack as the band flawlessly maneuver back and forth between the whiskey soaked bark of Bryan Giles to the melodic desert rock howl of Aaron Beam. Their path towards world domination may be a slow one, but Red Fang don’t look to be taking any prisoners along the way.
The record violently unfolds with “Malverde,” a big menacing sludge anthem barked out in a manner that instantly draws to mind the wizardy of The Melvins’ King Buzzo. Giles’ gruff voice commands your attention as the riffs begin to swirl in hypnotic circular patterns. A guitar solo during the bridge kicks things into double time before the band sink back into the muck. “Wires,” the album’s first single and highlight infiltrates speakers with enough fuzz to choke on, providing a dizzying riff for Beam’s soulful vocals to soar over. Catchy and buzzing with all the qualities that make stoner rock enjoyable, the band let loose for the explosive second half of the track as they melodically attack your senses with endlessly crushing guitars and stampeding drums. “Hank Is Dead” is quite possibly the catchiest song Red Fang has unleashed to date, and they do so without removing any of the heaviness. The melody is enormous from the moment the song hits, and only expands as contagious washes of swampy guitar playing wails over a densely produced wall of noise. These are the riffs that would make Josh Homme proud, and the style suits the band rather well.
The grungy buzzsaw riffs that open “Dirt Wizard” set the tone for the deep gravel tones of their stoner punk approach. Giles returns to lead vocals with a type of drunken bar room melody supported by monstrous drumming from John Sherman that slams with the best of them. “Throw Up” begins with a riff that could have been taken directly out of a Queens of the Stone Age song before turning downward to the deepest of sludge. Giles bark is raw and dirty, his chants ring as only years spent listening to the Melvins would allow, and the band intertwine their influences into their own sonic dirge. The monolithic rhythmic punch during the bridge annihilates all in its path, with Sherman providing jaw dropping drum fills that manage to take the attention away from the guitars blown out into hyperspace. “Painted Parade” features an amped up punk tempo as the vocal performance turns to a Big Business-esque melodic shout. The pummeling drumming and scathing guitars are enough to ignite any concert venue into a chaotic frenzy, and there’s no doubt Red Fang is ready and willing to do just that.
“Number Thirteen” features a desert rock croon from Beam mixed together with Giles’ vocals to form a two headed beast of badass rock n roll during the hooks. “Into The Eye” is propelled by Sherman’s syncopated drum pattern that explodes directly out the gate. The two vocalists switch off in a near call-and-response, while the guitars melt through the rhythms thick density to offer a moment of brightness. “The Undertow” takes things into atmospheres far beyond Earth’s surfaces, instead opting for a far out space rock sound complete with distorted vocals that waver and fade. The woozy guitars of Giles and David Sullivan float together with warped effects and a slow drip pacing before crashing back into our orbit with a bluesy crescendo. “Human Herd” closes their sophomore set with an ode to the classic days of rock, combining the teachings of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and maybe even a touch of Saint Vitus into the sound that Red Fang has begun to shape over the course of the last four years. The future for Red Fang has gotten even brighter (or sludgier… depending on how you look at it) since Murder The Mountains, as the band have proven they can write metal to pound your skull into the ground and songs catchy enough for radio airplay all the same.