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Red Fang – Whales and Leeches

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While Red Fang can easily be labeled as a stoner rock or stoner metal band – after all they do sound a lot like other bands of the genre – they seem to be an odd man out in the group. First of all, they broke through much later than most of the popular bands of the genre, which surfaced during the late 90s on the back of Kyuss success. Secondly, they are American but they hail from Portland, Oregon, and not the deserts of California like some of the prominent acts of the aforementioned era. They also seem to have a more acid sense of humour – we could call them The Simpsons of stoner – proven by their fantastic videos for the past songs Prehistoric Dog and Wires. Finally, to me they have a garage driven sound derived partially from the likes of state-neighbours Melvins, on top of their obvious stoner influences.

They now reach their third studio album overall, second launched by Relapse Records, and it goes by the name of Whales and Leeches. No major change in musical direction, but certainly a serious step forward towards a position as one of the most important new bands out there in the metal scene. Production is better, but still keeps the valuable garage / indie elements that make them different. And the songs rock and rock hard. Voices of the Dead is the standout, due to its overly catchy melodies and enticing riffs, but kudos to No Hope, a revisit to the whole vibe and licks of Wires, with increased speed and level of aggressiveness, and honourable mention to ‘1516’ for its neck-breaking rhythms and psychedelic vocals.

This is certainly the most consistent of their three albums to date. It might not have the same impact though, as no matter how much they evolved as a band, some might now see them as more of the same, repeating the same sound signature of the previous releases. In other words: surprise element is gone, but music is getting more and more mature, powerful and interesting.


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