Red Fang has been rocking out for more than 15 years, gathering a devoted following and relentlessly touring the world. Since 2005, they’ve played alongside the likes of Mastodon, Megadeth, and Kyuss Lives!
The Stoner Metal quartet is based out of Portland, Oregon, and fans have been clamoring for their new LP, Arrows, which was released in early June.
Red Fang has always been known for its no-frills, riff-heavy style. Their fans likely won’t be disappointed with Arrows: It’s 13 tracks of punishing metal ready to assault your eardrums. Be forewarned.
About Red Fang
Stoner Rock and Stoner Metal fans probably don’t need much of an intro on Red Fang, but we’ll give one anyway. The band has released five studio albums since 2008, and they’ve hit the Billboard charts a few times.
Despite their heavy sound, Red Fang is known for not taking themselves too seriously. The band regularly releases creative and wacky music videos, including the classic for “Wires” in 2011 (currently 7.6 million views on YouTube).
The current Red Fang members are:
- Aaron Beam (bass, vocals)
- John Sherman (drums)
- David Sullivan (guitars, vocals)
- Maurice Bryan Giles (guitars, vocals)
Arrows was recorded in the band’s hometown (Portland) at Halfing Studios. Chris Funk produced the album, the third record he’s worked on with the band.
Track One: Take It Back
The album starts in a weird but cool way with “Take It Back.” The brief track (1:58) lurches in with Giles tuning down his guitars for a sick bass sound. Then there’s the growled vocals singing:
Break my back
The weight is much too much now
Track Two: Unreal Estate
“Take it Back” transitions smoothly into “Unreal Estate,” where the action really starts. The heaviness sets the tone for the rest of the album, as the chugging guitar riff is accompanied by more growling vocals.
Beam (bass, vocals) told an interviewer “Unreal Estate” is essentially a one-riff song, with all the different versions just modified types of the main riff. But we’re not complaining – the song is killer.
Track Three: Arrows
“Arrows,” the title track, is another standout. Beam explains the song is about two sides of someone’s personality battling for control: one side that wants to find the positives, and the other side more prone to depression.
Beam sings in the first verse:
I’ll take the time it takes to make it right
He’ll take his pills and ethers
My mind’s designed to find this kind of light
He’ll find the darker side
“Arrows” is one of the catchier and more melodic songs on the album, and it also has one of Red Fang’s trademark hilarious music videos. The video, of course, has very little to do with the song – it’s just the band destroying shit with a samurai sword.
Track Four: My Disaster
“My Disaster” kicks you right in the ass from the jump. The short (1:56) up-tempo track is more evidence that Red Fang has some Punk Rock influences.
The song is chaotic, loud, and high-energy – and it deserves to be listened to with the volume turned all the way up.
Track Five: Two High
“Two High” is, as Beam describes it, a song about substance abuse and giving up on trying to get better in life. At one point, he sings, “Too high to try.” So, there’s definitely some Stoner Rock street cred with this track.
The vocals go back to the scream/growl that I really like, and the guitar riffs are wicked on this song. Beam says this is a track that they could’ve easily made 15 years ago. In other words, it’s classic Red Fang.
Track Six: Anodyne
This track has one of the coolest bass lines on the record, which does a weird loop if you listen closely. “Anodyne” is a type of drug or painkiller, but the word used as an adjective also means something “not likely to provoke dissent or offense.” Another definition could be boring.
The song is anything but boring, though. It has an excellent, creepy feel to it and also one of the best lyrical lines on the album:
There is a witch calling
There is a well
6,000 dogs barking
There is a hell
Talk about painting a dark picture!
Track Seven: Interop-Mod
At 1:02, “Interop-Mod” is the shortest track on the album. It features a bit of Sherman showing off on the drums and a weird, distorted sound from a keyboard. Beam says there’s not much to say about the song other than it’s named after the keyboard used to make it.
Nevertheless, it’s a nice interlude and break from the action.
Track Eight: Fonzi Scheme
The title of this track is an obvious play on words and (don’t be disappointed) has nothing to do with Bernie Madoff and Wall Street crooks.
“Fonzi Scheme” is another straight-up rocker, but I have to admit, it’s at this point in the album I started to get bored. Technically, the track is proficient and good enough, but it sounds like everything else Red Fang has ever done.
Track Nine: Days Collide
“Days Collide” is the most Sludge Metal-sounding song on the track, and I dug it. Everything is tuned down and low-tempo, and the vocals reflect that. Then, midway through, there’s the screamed refrain: “Stop standing in my light,” and the tempo picks up before going back to sludge-land.
Track Ten: Rabbits in Hives
Similar to “My Disaster,” this track sounds like another straight-up Punk song. The tempo is at breakneck speed with screaming vocals, though the lyrics don’t make much sense. There’s probably a reason for the lyrical nonsense, too: Beam says they wrote the song before knowing what the vocals would be like.
Track Eleven: Why
“Why” is about as melancholy as Red Fang gets. Reading the lyrics, it sounds like a song about trying to help a suicidal friend, but being wary about going down with him. The last line is: “Why do you want to die?”
This is another track with a cool music video. The partly-animated video is about a pizza restaurant mascot who gets hooked on, well, pizza. It’s trippy and fun.
Track Twelve: Dr. Owl
“Dr. Owl” is a forgettable hard-rocking song. I listened to the album from front to back a couple of times and, by the time it got to this track, I was begging for it to be over. I’m sorry, but “Dr. Owl” is just kind of bland.
Track Thirteen: Funeral Coach
If you haven’t noticed by now, Red Fang really likes wordplay. Beam explains that he saw a sign that said “Funeral Coach” while driving, so named the song after it. However, the song has nothing to do with funerals or coaches.
Once again, this song is loud, mean, and it rocks. But it also sounds very similar to “Dr. Owl” and other songs on the album.
Standout Tracks: “Arrows” and “Why”
Pros: People have come to expect certain things from Red Fang, like no-gimmicks Heavy Rock and high energy. And they deliver, as they did with this new album. I can see how the tracks on Arrows would sound great live in the mosh pit or, hell, even while you’re pumping iron at the gym. It’s rock-out-with-your-cock-out type music, and you don’t have to think about it much.
Cons: Arrows is repetitive and not in a good way. After listening to it for a while, all the songs start to sound the same. You also feel like you’ve been bludgeoned to death, but maybe that’s the point.
Red Fang’s sound hasn’t changed much over the years, which has been a major criticism on them. I didn’t think Arrows sounded too different from their other stuff, and, frankly, I got pretty bored by it.
There are also no actual artistic concepts – it’s just a bunch of guys playing loud, aggressive Rock. This is the type of music to put on in the background while you’re doing something else; it doesn’t really merit a close listen.