RED FANG
"Murder the Mountains"

(Relapse)

01. Malverde
02. Wires
03. Hank is Dead
04. Dirty Wizard
05. Throw Up
06. Painted Parade
07. Number Thirteen
08. Into the Eye
09. The Undertow
10. Human Herd

RATING: 8/10

One of those "Relapse bands" that rides the stoner rock and gnarly metal rails, RED FANG delivers its psychedelic-spiced hardness in a big box of focused songwriting that sticks to the ribs. "Murder the Mountains" is familiar enough for those that would rather not have to think too much about it and just varied/distinct enough to set them apart from the MASTODON/HIGH ON FIRE collectives that have been sprouting up like poppies in Afghanistan these past several years.

First impressions of "Murder The Mountains" will emphasize the heavy set of balls swinging beneath these beefy 'n burly tunes, yet it is only a few songs in before one hears RED FANG's knack for diversity of arrangement and style. In other words, the guys are clever songwriters who understand the importance of not allowing the sheer weight of a riff and a rhythm to overwhelm a hook. "Malverde" begins the album with a chunky cadence reminiscent of CLUTCH's stomp and comes with a deceptively effective chorus. The cut ends up as one that is distinct, yet still connected to the larger effort, a quality that defines pretty much the entire album. An up-tempo rolling groover called "Throw Up" recalls moments from STICK's "Heavy Bag", yet coexists in harmony with the supreme catchiness and almost bouncy cadence of "Wires", the latter unable to keep itself from transforming into a fuzzed out stoner rock jam before it's over. Then there is driving of a harder variety on "Dirt Wizard", while a mix of cosmic flow and John Bonham plod characterizes "The Undertow". Making all those parts work together with a commonality of purpose is a defining attribute of "Murder The Mountains".

The album continues to throw curves without relinquishing the rock, peppering the music with the kind of extraterrestrial tones/effects heard from early MONSTER MAGNET. In a fashion befitting the album's changing landscape, "Murder The Mountains" ends with an even sharper left turn into a hooky as hell form of stoner rock on "Human Herd" that is more BLACK NASA and ATOMIC BITCHWAX than HIGH ON FIRE or MASTODON.

The brass tack summation of "Murder the Mountains" is that RED FANG has recorded a weighty slab of rock from the quarry that effortlessly blends multiple elements of stoner rock and metal. You'll leave impressed with the variety, tired from the head banging, and smiling from all those hooks still bouncing off the walls of your skull.

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