Always an absolute blast in a live setting, Portland stoner metal kings Red Fang’s recorded output has never quite captured that same frenetic euphoria, their deep cut explorations into more long form, prog-ish territory, interesting and entertaining in their own right, not holding a candle to the rapid fire bangers that make up the majority of their can’t miss setlists.
Like the intent of Metallica’s fabled Black Album (and to a lesser extent, Baroness’ recent, revelatory Purple record) RF have enlisted nu metal impresario Ross Robinson to iron out the crunchy and sludgy edges of 2013’s “Whales and Leeches” to deliver a sleek and streamlined Red Fang experience. Production trickery aside though, RF have delivered their catchiest, most listenable and infinitely repeatable collection of songs yet.
It’s thankfully not all completely smooth sailing though, album closers “I Am A Ghost” and “Living in Lye” let Bryan Giles (the gravelly yang to Aaron Beam’s golden voiced yin) loose on two down and dirty metal bashers, and Beam shines brightly on the immensely earworm-y “Cut It Short”, dangerously addictive hooks mixed by Queens of the Stone Age vet Joe Baresi. All while jazz influenced skins master John Sherman and riff god David Sullivan hold down the whatever their stalwart captains throw their way, adding epic atmosphere to slinky rocker “No Air” and a driving swagger to punky whirlwind “Shadows”.
Bands like Red Fang, Metz and the dearly departed Fight Amp should be household names amongst lapsed grunge fans who cut their teeth when this kind of gloriously heavy and catchy music ruled the earth. With “Only Ghosts” Red Fang make the most solid bid yet to reclaim the throne.