Review Summary: Strong, consistent stoner/sludge metal.
Red Fang is a band that I am only recently familiar with. For years I had heard a lot of good things about the group, but I had never gotten around to giving them a listen. This changed last week, when a friend gave me his copy of Whales and Leeches and told me I needed to check it out. He spoke very highly of the album, and told me that Red Fang “is the new Black Sabbath.”
After many repeated listens, I’ve decided that while the Black Sabbath comparison might be stretching it a bit, this is a fantastic album.
Red Fang is a sludge/stoner metal band that makes music filled with thick, sludgy guitar riffs, Alice in Chains-esque vocal harmonies, and memorable hooks. This is catchy music that, while abrasive enough to justify the genre label of metal, can easily appeal to a wider audience. The music of Whales and Leeches should prove satisfying to any listeners of heavy metal, hard rock, or punk.
The sound present on Whales and Leeches can be best compared to the music created by Kyuss, Orange Goblin, and Electric Wizard. This release showcases Red Fang’s consistency, delivering eleven solid metal tunes and never once losing focus. There isn’t a bad song on this record. Most of the material present is fast tempo, with an emphasis on heavy sludge riffs. Album opener and highlight “DOEN” is a good representation of the album’s material, being a fast tempo rocker based around a strong riff. Guitar solos are used sparingly throughout the record, adding a tasteful flourish to the songs on which they are featured. A good example of this is album closer “Every Little Twist”.
Usually when a record lacks diversity it tends to drag on and run out of steam after about the first half, but this is not the case on Whales and Leeches. The material present on this record, while mostly showcasing one style, is a perfect representation of what Red Fang does best. When a band can write this many consistently strong songs, they don’t need to mix it up.
That is not to say Whales and Leeches doesn’t have any experimental moments. While the fast tempo material is great, Red Fang is perhaps at their best on the album’s two slower pieces. The excellent “Dawn Rising”, featuring guest vocals from YOB vocalist Mike Scheidt, gives the album a little bit of and showcases Red Fang’s ability to write in a different style when they want to. The song, at seven minutes, is the longest piece on the record, and is the album’s most doom-influenced piece. The other slower tempo piece and possibly the album’s best song is the already-mentioned album closer “Every Little Twist”, a nice mid-tempo song featuring some creative guitar leads and harmonized vocals.
There really isn’t much else to say about this release. It’s an album without any weak tracks, and if you’re a fan of fast, fun heavy metal, I urge you to check this release out. I know this might be premature, as we still have a couple of months left in the year, but Whales and Leeches could very well be the best metal release of 2013. In a year featuring new albums from Darkthrone, Summoning, and Black Sabbath, that’s a very strong statement. This is a must listen.
Album Highlights: “Every Little Twist”, “DOEN”, “Dawn Rising”, “Behind the Light”