A few bruises, but far from murderous
When Portland (Oregon, U.S.) based stoner metal outfit Red Fang released their Prehistoric Dog single back in 2009 it generated a huge amount of interest in the four-piece act. After all, it was a kick ass song, and the band didn’t appear to take themselves too seriously – instead they were more interested in having a good time and rocking out. Unfortunately, the single was undoubtedly the best thing to be heard on their self-titled full-length debut effort (which was essentially a compilation of their entire discography to that point and released through Sargent House the same year), with the remainder of the album best described as patchy and filler-like for the most part.
Two years on, and Red Fang (comprising guitarists/vocalists David Sullivan and Maurice Bryan Giles, bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam and drummer John Sherman) have completed work on their second full-length effort Murder the Mountains – which is also their first release since signing up with the mighty Relapse Records.
For the most part, Red Fang’s latest effort is a step up from their debut, with Murder the Mountains on the whole sounding more consistent song writing and production wise over their debut. But despite this, there’s nothing that rivals the band’s semi-classic Prehistoric Dog, and some of the album’s tracks are a little unremarkable, and therefore all too easily forgettable.
The opening track Malverde is a heavy chugging effort that brings to mind early Mastodon, but with a cleaner production and with a greater melodic streak running through the songs choruses. Although far from terrible, and featuring some great guitar work, Malverde is a little lacking in the song writing department to really stand out quite in the way an opening track should, which doesn’t give the listener much confidence in the rest of the album.
The follow-up track, Wires, (which was released as a single prior to the album’s release) is a stronger effort that sees the band channelling Queens of the Stone Age (in the guitar tones) with some subtle latter day Mastodon (the harmonised vocals) with good results, while traces of Kyuss can be heard in the short and fun rocker Hank is Dead.
The trio of Dirt Wizard, the chugging Throw Up and the highly energised Painted Parade make for a middle part of the album that is solid and likeable, but a little unremarkable in terms of really sticking in your brain long after the songs themselves have finished, while Number Thirteen bears a striking resemblance to ASG – both structurally and vocally.
After venturing into melodic territory with a few of the previous cuts, the band attempt to heavy things up a little with Into the Eye and The Undertow. But as good as the idea sounds, both tracks are by far the most filler-like efforts on the album, and therefore fail in their attempts to revitalise the tail end of the album.
Strangely enough, the band has chosen the catchy Queens of the Stone Age sounding Human Herd to close out the album. Although a good track, it seems a little awkward as a closer, and therefore leaves the listener thinking that they’ve been cheated a real album closer in some ways.
Murder the Mountains isn’t a bad album, and it’s certainly a big step up from Red Fang’s debut effort. But when compared to some other stoner metal outfits on the scene, Murder the Mountains is far from what you would honestly consider the best of the best. Red Fang’s new album is good, but ultimately disappointing.
(Relapse Records/Riot! Entertainment)