Date Posted: April 12, 2011
Print Edition: April 8, 2011
There is a double-edged sword in the world of metal. No, that isn’t the name of a band, either. metal is often home to some of the most talented and skilful musicians in the game, yet the raw, loud, and *ahem* brutal sound of the genre often scares away would be listeners. Most metalheads are all too happy to let this happen, craving metal that makes no concessions to popular music. Still, every once in a while a band bridges the gap and creates music that satisfies the metal gods and those-less-likely-to-sport-studs alike. So it is with open arms that a band like Red Fang is to be welcomed by bleeding eardrums everywhere.
Their second album Murder the Mountains delivers big time. Comparisons to Mastodon and Queens of the Stone Age are both apt, and the Portland band moves nicely between those groups on album highlight “Wires,” which takes QOTSA’s riffs as hooks mentality to heart.
It’s worth noting that Mountains is produced by Chris Funk of The Decemberists. Yeah, the Decemberists. That means the album gets a slick and savvy production feel, enough to draw in those on the fence about metal.
For all those suddenly lowering their horns, relax, it’s still pure. Headbangers everywhere will rejoice to the riffs which sound like vintage 80’s thrash mixed with Kyuss’ sludge rock. “Throw Up” is particularly menacing.
If there are still questions of authenticity, check out the (hilarious) video for “Prehistoric Dog” from their first album. It’s all shotgunning beer, metal work, harassing LARPers, and bodies getting hacked up. That’s all still present on Murder the Mountains, but now it’s packaged a bit nicer.
It almost goes without saying, but the band plays their instruments like champs. The drums on “Painted Parade” are wild, with a “Hot For Teacher” style opening lick. Each guitar and bass track is carefully captured, yet never loses its raw energy. Really, each part sounds clear, but impeccably interwoven, likely the work of Funk. A welcome addition, considering one of metal’s biggest pitfalls can be the muddying of the mix.
Overall, Red Fang has created a monster with Murder the Mountains. It snarls and screams like the most brutal in the game, yet stays remarkably accessible. It makes a mess, while staying clean. This is not an album to be missed; it is easily one of the best hard rock or metal discs to emerge so far this decade. So, start painting decals of wizards and flames on your worn-out van, cut the arms off of your best denim jacket and remember: a party in the back doesn’t mean you can’t also have a party in the front. Hell, it’s time for another beer run.