Red Fang – Whales and Leeches

With Whales and Leeches, Red Fang is poised to break out of the stoner metal ghetto. Yes, Red Fang is on metal label Relapse Records. Yes, the band is from Portland and has the tattoos, greasy hair, dirty jeans and beards to prove it. And yes, Whales and Leeches is a heavy album.  But Red Fang is not a heavy metal band per se.

Red Fang’s commodity is psychedelic power rock. Every song is in service of the mighty riff. They do one thing and they do it well. What they do is to establish a mid-tempo powerchord groove and mine it for all it’s worth.

The band’s third long-player, Whales and Leeches, is unrepentantly loud and bludgeoning. But Red Fang has a lot more in common with Blue Cheer (or even B.T.O.) than it does with Bathory, Burzum, or any black metal.

The album kicks off with “Doen,” a straightforward rocker that recalls early Mastodon, pre-prog. But it’s on the second track, “Blood Like Cream,” that the band really hits its stride. I can totally imagine hearing this song played on mainstream rock radio alongside Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Nirvana –assuming there was such a thing as “mainstream rock radio” anymore. “Cream” is catchy as hell, with a memorable chorus that will stick in your craw. The song is the exemplification of why Red Fang is gonna be big, I hope.

Simply put, there are lots of things about this band that lots of people will like: the vocals are clear and melodic, the guitar solos work in the context of the songs without being excessive, and the drumming hammers it all home. Basically, there is a “bigness” to the entire album that will appeal to several generations of heavy rock fans. Hopefully, there will be a conduit to get this music to the masses.

Red Fang
Whales and Leeches