Red Fang - _Murder the Mountains_
(Relapse Records, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
Red Fang could be an up and coming psychedelic heavy metal band and _Murder the Mountains_ could be their earth shaking debut. But it is not. Red Fang has been around a few years with little attention and lukewarm reviews attached to their name. This could be, of course, because there is little to say when everything has been shouted in the fuzzed out world of stoner metal. _Murder the Mountains_ is the second release from Red Fang and the first with Relapse Records. Whatever has happened to the band in the short years between releases has been for the better. The album is a fresh start, presenting a more mature band which tastes like a finely aged Pabst tall boy.

Red Fang operates in the small niche between heavy metal and hard rock. Stoner metal is a nebulous term encompassing the work of Monster Magnet as well as Electric Wizard. For some strange reason, a doom template with psychedelic blues sympathies elicits a variety of heaviness. Metal bands are sometimes rock, with the converse happening as much. This makes for interesting audiences, as listeners may unexpectedly pass their metal thresholds. With the right type of lighting and correct amount of drinks, _Murder the Montanans_ could be a metal album played by a rock and roll band or quite possibly the other way around.

Musically, there is little difference in Red Fang's approach to the stoner landscape which cemented their debut. Songs are still hinged on heavy riffs with obvious nods to both past and contemporary influences. The album's single "Wires" finds the band right back where they started with a riff centered stoner anthem. This comes, of course, with a smile and an uncontrollable tapping of the foot. Maurice Giles's vocals are almost whispered with patient calmness. "Dirt Wizard's" vocals continue this style to the backdrop of _Bleach_ era Nirvana before giving way to the Melvins' inspired misanthropy of "Throw Up". While there are more similarities than differences, Red Fang still manages to pull a few creative uppercuts in the process. "The Undertow" is a methodical ballad through choppy waters which is not only surprising but one of the album's biggest highlights. _Murder the Mountains_ is a stoner metal album with as much originality as tribute carefully woven in one large, bitchin' blanket.

_Murder the Mountains_ is a fine follow-up for a band trying to make their way in the sometimes derivative world of stoner metal. While most of it has been heard before, the songs still present freshness from a band obviously not ready to call it a day. Because this is a sophomore release, the struggle and strife felt from the debut marks _Murder the Mountain's_ uniqueness. Aggression and mediation has replaced dopey optimism, transforming the album into something memorable. The album's cover art suggests refocus as the minimal layout with circular acid inspired illustration is leagues ahead of the black and white sabertooth skull which adorned their debut. While many declarations have been made by stoner metal dignitaries, Red Fang still has something to say. And let me tell you -- it's going to be loud and heavy.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/redfangpdx

(article published 28/3/2011)


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