Red Fang – Murder The Mountains

by Mat
Categories: Reviews
Comments: No Comments
Published on: August 17, 2011

Sometimes you just can’t please some people. If I said to you I had a record that had all the best bits of the Melvins, Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss and Black Sabbath- with a smattering of Kylesa thrown in for good measure, you’d be well pleased wouldn’t you? Rejoice then, dear reader, for Red Fang’s sophomore album- that supposedly notorious “difficult” phase- arrives full formed and ready to go.
As you probably know already, Red Fang are a Portland, Oregon based quartet and Murder the Mountains is their debut for the increasingly reliable Relapse Records who must be thrilled at the quality and potential delivered by their recent signings.

They must be putting something in the water in Portland because Murder the Mountains is absolutely jam packed fill of riffs and punchy tunes, coming across as a dishevelled Queens of the Stone Age/Melvins scruffier cousin but with none of the meandering that can detract from the former and a lot less of the (admittedly brilliant) deep sludge of the latter.

“Hank is Dead” sounds like an outtake from QOTSA’s Rated R with its harmonies and low slung riffage; “Throw Up’ is a six minute sludge miracle with a guitar part that is so dirty and nauseous you may need some motion sickness pills.

“The Undertow” has that slow build momentum so beloved of the sludge fraternity; it’s dark and brooding, not unlike LA Woman era Doors or When the Circus Leaves Town-era Kyuss but these are hardly criticisms now, are they?

What’s so pleasing about Murder the Mountains is that the band have taken all the stuff that was great about their debut album- the Melvin’s like sorcery, the Black Flag style viscery and have added to the mix with better songcraft and musicianship.

You could say that this is “just” sludge rock but it doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter; this is sludgy but only in the way that Black Sabbath are sludgy: there’s a lot more going on than low rumbling bass and down-tuned guitars- although there’s plenty of that of course. I know a load of purists are going to argue that being just like the Melvins or the Queens is too derivative to be truly great but I just don’t see that this is a problem- not when you have songs as strong as the set on offer here.

Murder the Mountains may not set the world on fire but it does deserve to singe it a little bit. This is the album to be played outside, repeatedly, on high volume; it is the perfect barbecue album for your discerning metalhead. It’s a beer-soaked, goddamn grungy delight.

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