Back again to send heavy cascades of thumping rhythms, demanding riffs, and exhaustive rock ‘n’ roll contagion down upon the senses, Oregon’s Red Fang unleash their third dramatically compelling album upon the world. Whales And Leeches is a commanding storm of what the band does best, making intensive and rapacious heavy rock with more barbs and hooks than an angling convention, and though arguably it does not bring anything strikingly new from the Portland quartet it is undeniably pure Red Fang and a definite highlight of the year.
With the past two years or so a constant round of touring and shows, the foursome of guitarist/vocalist Bryan Giles, bassist/vocalist Aaron Beam, guitarist David Sullivan, and drummer John Sherman have at the same time written a collection of songs which rampage on adrenaline and hunger and seduce with a virulently additive expanse of temptation clad grooves and incendiary riffery. Featuring guests Mike Scheidt (Yob) and Pall Jenkins (The Black Heart Procession), the Relapse Records released album outshines predecessor Murder The Mountains to stand almost side by side with Red Fang’s explosive self-titled debut full length in stature, an album which always has the passions inflamed.
Opener DOEN immediately tells you all you need to know about Whales And Leeches, a spiralling guitar tease across rabid rhythms bursting from a discord kissed introduction to lay the seeds for a groove cored flight of predacious energy and adventure. As you would expect riffs and drums command and bewitch the ear whilst the dual vocal attack is a pleasing magnet within the tempestuous assault, but there also seems an extra dose of mischief and infection to the song which subsequently permeates the whole album, a fun or devilry which has lips licked and anticipation brewing an even stronger hunger.
The following excellent Blood Like Cream is a thrilling feisty dance with a strong Queens Of The Stone Age tantalising to its breath whilst its chorus is epidemically captivating and the trigger to its recipient’s vocal and feet shuffling contribution. The song is a magnificent temptation with a punk rabidity to its urgency and enthusiastic swagger whilst its successors No Hope and Crows in Swine add their individual flavours to continue the terrific start to the release. The first of the two has a snarl and bruising quality which again offers a punk essence but this time within a Black Tusk like causticity whilst the second digs up the depths of the dirty side of the band to clad its sides in Mastodon like filth and aggressive enticement. With a wonderfully niggling presence to the serpentine grooves and sonic licks, as well as excellent unpredictable invention over a torrential drum attack, the song is one of the major pinnacles of the album especially with the Eastern mystique which seduces from within its enthralling climax.
Voices of the Dead is next to keep the passions enslaved, the song a gentler sinew framed persuasion with great vocal harmonies providing a sweltering gentleness across the more intimidating sounds. It continues to hold the imagination as firmly as the previous tracks before passing over the task to Behind The Light who then sends the baton into the eager hands of the Black Sabbath skirting Dawn Rising. The two tracks again leave attention and appetite fully satisfied but do miss the heights of their predecessors in many ways. There is plenty of gripping adventure to the songs but there is a lack of that killer aspect which makes them leap from the speakers into an infernally persistent and welcome long term instigator.
There is no such problem with Failure, the track an irresistible lure with broody shadows and a spellbinding menacing temptation. Slowly stalking senses and thoughts the track is a heavy prowling joy, riffs and rhythms crowding the ear into submission whilst the vocals add their demonic tension as guitars sculpt a mesmeric sonic web of invention and sultry desire. It, as many of the tracks shows the diversity and maturity within Red Fang’s songwriting before letting 1516 take the album back into a primal insatiable heavy stomp of blood curdling intensity.
This Animal ensures the album delivers another major highlight before its end, the song bringing again a QOTSA like twisting of inventive sonic diablerie and pulsating metallic predation which at times reminds of Therapy? whilst the final song and latest single from the album, Every Little Twist provides a smouldering , endearing slice of muscular rock with melodic caresses. It is a very decent conclusion though personally not a song I would imagine being the strongest pull into the album compared to much stronger infection soaked tracks upon Whales And Leeches. It undoubtedly brings the release to a fine finish and helps leave exhaustion and pleasure the overriding emotions and thoughts from one exciting album. Red Fang seemingly constantly create music you just cannot get enough of and their third album is another prime example; maybe not a classic but pretty damn close.
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