Red Fang Red Fang

[Sargent House; 2009]

Styles: heavy metal
Others: Valient Thorr, Early Man, ASG

Don’t get me wrong; I like straightforward metal as much as anybody else. Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” is one of my favorite songs, and “Overkill” isn't too far behind it. I even like new-school heshers like Valient Thorr and Early Man. But doesn’t it all just get kind of old after a while? Maybe it’s the cynicism bred by spending more time than is due with middling metal records such as this, Red Fang’s self-titled.

To be fair, it has its moments. The build-up that leads into “Humans Remain Human Remains” shows that the band is capable of playing with dynamics. The song itself builds upon its glassy drone with dirge-like bass and stumbling drums before it really waves its post-Sabbath slow-metal banner. The doomy riffs here play something like Sleep and even more like The Sword. But while Red Fang’s three vocalists seem content to moan the song’s title a few times instead of writing a chorus, these ears aren’t so easily entertained. While there’s nothing wrong with the way Red Fang sounds, there isn’t a whole lot that’s right about it, either.

I could tell you from experience that driving with the album playing and the windows down is pretty fun, but I’m not convinced that really means anything at all. Even in these ideal conditions, it's hard to make it through Red Fang in a single trip. It's a shame, too, because closer “Witness” is one of the record’s best. It sounds like a real Valient Thorr pants-bulge barnburner, with ringing hits on the ride cymbals and speedometer-pegging thrash riffs. And at a concise two and a half minutes, it makes its point and gets the hell outta there, which is exactly what I wish Red Fang would do the rest of the time.

The sorry fact is, despite Red Fang’s best qualities — adequately tumultuous riffs and admittedly engaging starts and stops — the album as a whole just feels like too much. It could have been one hell of an EP, but over the course of its 36 minutes, the impact is softened. It’s like being bludgeoned with a wiffle bat.

1. Prehistoric Dog
2. Reverse Thunder
3. Night Destroyer
4. Humans Remain Human Remains
5. Good To Die
6. Bird of Fire
7. Wings of Fang
8. Sharks
9. Whales And Leeches
10. Witness

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