Whales and Leeches
October 15, 2013
Fut for some reason, I love stoner rock, beer rock, whatever you want to call alcohol-fueled break shit over your head loud rock and/or roll. I used to live next to the guys in Fu Manchu and used to stare at quiet awe each time I walked into the local music store (Music House, I think it was called) and see dudes in a famous band working in a normal job. While I’ve grown up, I still get amazed seeing working bands in their day jobs. Of course, that didn’t last too long for local Portlanders Red Fang; once the money from Relapse came in, they emerged from the subterranean Asian-themed bar they worked at, and emerged into the blinding, annoying light… and right into a van.
Getting signed is a funny thing. Sometimes it means money right away; sometimes you have to wait for it. In the five signed bands I’ve been in, only twice was I able to fully live off “banding.” These experiences heavily bleed into the music and I think their new-found freedom has helped Red Fang write a seriously amazing record. Aside from being fabulously nice guys (being a straight edge guy in a bar, ordering fruit juice, you’d think I’d get shit – but these guys, and all the staff , were/are always nothing but awesome), these guys are incredibly talented, comical, and intelligent in their writing, execution, and presentation of their material.
Their songs range from vintage Corrosion of Conformity, to Masters of Reality, to Kylesa, without sounding like they’re ripping them off. Tracks like “Voices of the Dead” and “Behind the Light” evokes Pepper Keenan –esque vocals without all the washy chorus, and “No Hope” has a pounding rock groove that never gives up. This album is made to play at full volume, windows down, past your old high school, flipping off the kids that go there now. I know you’re 35. Just do it, it’ll be awesome.
What I love about this album is the mix. The guitars are warm, mid-y, and have a delicious breakup that you can’t hear in some of their glossy, polished contemporaries. The bass is thick and audible, with just the right amount of gain flowing through it. The drums are compressed yet washy, huge yet not overpowering. Finally, the vocals are clean. This is not something you normally hear in this genre of music. It’s great to hear a vocalist not hide behind chorus, distortion, and reverb. Sure, it’s got effects on it, but it’s merely flavoured with them. The vocals really shine through, and pull the pounding distortion precession behind it.
On top of everything, you can’t go wrong with the label that gave us Mindrot, Coalesce, and Black Tusk. This is a solid album, from a solid bunch of guys, on a very solid label. To that, I say, “Cheers.”