Produced by Chris Funk
Murder the Mountains is the Relapse Records debut for Portland, Oregon's stoner quartet Red Fang, and it's only their second full-length release. Their self-titled 2009 debut for Sargent House was actually a collection of their first two releases, which were limited release EPs. The point is that Red Fang does not have a vast amount of material released so far. However, on this album, they sound as if they've been writing excellent stoner metal for a decade or more.
The band brings many tools to the table on this album, and not only do they use them all well, but they truly manage to make it look easy. For example, between guitarist Bryan Giles and bassist Aaron Beam, the band employ a host of vocal styles ranging from clean singing to gang shouts to throaty growls, and all of them are perfectly suited for the songs in which they appear. Another example of this band's range is the multitude of different musical styles which are on display here. The super-heavy, sludgy attack of tracks like Malverde, Throw Up and Into the Eye contrast quite nicely with the more straightforward riff-based approach of tracks such as Wires and Dirt Wizard. There are even excellent examples of pseudo-doom (The Undertow), as well as groovy numbers like album closer Human Herd, which sounds like something the Foo Fighters might have written.
As if all this variety weren't enough, the band further showcases their musical chops by delivering all of the above stoner-y goodness through the mechanics of some fairly uncommon rhythms. For example, there are time signatures such as 12/8, 7/8 and even 15/8 throughout the proceedings. The dual cherries on top of it all are the facts that the riffs are super-catchy, numerous and memorable, and also that the myriad transitions between different tempos, rhythms, volumes and styles are all executed with a deftness which is often only seen from a band who has released two or three times as many albums as Red Fang has, at least.
The bottom line is that, if this is what Red Fang can do after delivering only two albums of ten songs apiece, the sky is the limit for this band. Their debut album was absolutely fantastic (it was my debut album of the year in 2009), and their sophomore album is even better.
“ some fairly uncommon rhythms ”
Tracklist: Malverde / Wires / Hank Is Dead / Dirt Wizard / Throw Up / Painted Parade / Number Thirteen / Into the Eye / The Undertow / Human Herd
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