Thursday, October 17, 2013

Red Fang Hooks Whales And Leeches

Red Fang
Red Fang is fun if nothing else. It's a mildly distorted sludge band that never takes itself too seriously.

They couldn't even come up with a title so they named it after a song on their debut album. They wish they had a cooler story to tell, but the name was as rushed as everything else about Whales And Leeches.

The time crunch to record mostly came about because the band was two months out from recording their third album when they first started writing songs. Since they didn't have much of anything on deck, they did what they always do. They write songs they like and hope everyone digs it.

For the most part, digging Whales And Leeches is easy to do. It might be less cohesive than Murder The Mountains, but it's no less heavy in their various tellings of somehow friendly death and doom (thanks in part to the voice of Bryan Giles).

Whales And Leeches becomes more enduring the more it is played. 

They waste no time setting the nighttime tone for Whales And Leeches, opening with a song that Aaron Beam stole back from his side project metal band. DOEN a.k.a. Dead Of Endless Night was inspired by the disappointment he felt over the movie 30 Days Of Night. He was right to write the song. The track is more frightening than the film.

Red Fang follows it up with the song Blood Like Cream, a track that conveys the nature of the band. They know the title is disgusting, which is why they left it intact. The song is about the pressures of family and work pulling people in two directions, with children becoming allegorical blood suckers.

The track is mostly hated by their wives and girlfriends. And yet, Red Fang manages to make it accessible with its riff rock, melodic lyrics, smart instrumentals, and a shout-out chorus.

Skipping No Hope and Crows In Swine, Voices Of The Dead delivers some solid pressure-cooker metal. If the track feels more throwback than usual, it's likely because they ripped the riff from one of the band member's previous lives. Specifically, it's a riff that David Sullivan put together in the 1990s.

They changed up it up slightly, but it still conveys the head banger mood the band enjoys laying down. It also reinforces the idea that they all felt frantic writing new material as Behind The Light is also built upon a riff that Red Fang has been trying to work in for years. It fits in right here.

There are several solid songs on Whales And Leeches, but the one must have is the big 7-minute doom metal track Dawn Rising with special guest Mike Scheidt (YOB). Their friend hits some crazy highs, and otherwise adds another layer to a compelling tempo steady track. The fact that it bleeds into the thickly atmospheric Failure is a bonus.

Red Fang makes the most out of mire.

The three tracks that wrap up the album — 1516, This Animal, and Every Little Twist — add dimension to the Red Fang repertoire. While 1516 maintains a somber distorted drone, there are some punk undertones at the core of the song. This Animal lends itself to the percussions managed by John Sherman. Every Little Twist is a perfect melodic chug finish.

The real gems on the album came on as after thoughts. Murder The Mountains, which wasn't released on the album with the same name, makes its studio debut as a bonus track. Along with that, Black Water recaps the side of Red Fang that everyone loves. Slow, methodic and melodic.

Whales And Leeches By Red Fang Rips 5.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Whales And Leeches isn't Murder The Mountains, and that's all right. Mostly, it lacks the persistent buzz of cohesiveness. Instead, Whales And Leeches comes across more like a bunch of songs. There is nothing wrong with that because it gave the band an opportunity to increase its repertoire. But it also gives off a slightly haphazard vibe that makes the album more of a stopover than something exciting.

You can find Whales & Leeches by Red Fang on Amazon. The album, with bonus tracks, can also be downloaded from iTunes. You can also find the album at Barnes & Noble; just keep in mid that the vinyl edition doesn't carry the bonus tracks (deluxe CDs do). Red Fang is currently on tour, cutting across the western United States. They will head to Europe in January. Check their schedule on Facebook.
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