Red Fang - Whales and Leeches (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Red Fang

Whales and Leeches (2013)


Portland, OR's Red Fang get by on pure unadulterated rock n' roll badassery. They don't have the clearly defined pop sensibilities of Torche, the experimental streak of Kylesa, or the chameleon-like abilities of Baroness. Since 2009, they've been delivering their own special brand of sludge metal that sounds best when cranked to 11, with smiles on their faces and tongues in their cheeks. Whales & Leeches, their third full-length, offers more of what we've come to expect from the group, and can only be described as a hard-rocking, hard-partying good time.

Although one would be hard-pressed to call Whales & Leeches a radical reinvention of any sort, to their credit, Red Fang do try a few new things this time around. There's a seven-minute Melvins-inspired sludge opus entitled "Dawn Rising," featuring guest vocals courtesy of Mike Scheidt of psych-metal weirdos YOB, placed smack dab in the middle of the record that breaks things up a bit. The song's climax is stopped dead in its tracks by crystal clean electric guitars over distant feedback and far away sound effects, hinting at something sinister that sound like nothing else on the record.

On the other end of the spectrum, first single "Blood and Cream" is the poppiest, most immediately catchy song the band have penned to date, coming across like Clutch on steroids and bubblegum. Were it not for all the bullshit politics involved with rock radio, this song would be all over it. Elsewhere, the band's signature sound remains intact on the aggressive Kyuss meets Crowbar stomper "Crows in Swine" and opener "DOEN," which begins Whales & Leeches with howls of "Winter is your doom!" being particular highlights.

Are Red Fang reinventing any sort of sludge metal wheel on Whales & Leeches? No. Are they virtually indistinguishable from their colleagues in The Sword? Yes. Does any of that matter when they're putting out records that rock this hard? Not at all. If you like loud sludgy riffs, face-melting solos and Ozzy-esque vocal hooks, Red Fang will satisfy your appetite, and probably leave you hungover and sore from headbanging.