Red Fang – Only Ghosts

Knob-twiddler extraordinaire Ross Robinson has a rich history of flipping off boundaries, genres and formulas, but most of all, getting the best out of bands, and thankfully that’s what shines through most on Red Fang’s latest opus. The basic stoner, sludge template remains firmly in place, but the stoner vibes are stonier, the sludgey vibes sludgier, and the overall result, well, resultier. While contemporaries like Mastodon have gone ever more prog, or in the case of Black Tusk even more primal, Red Fang have chosen to stick to what they know, and just get better at it each time. With riffs hewn from primeval scree and solos or arpeggios abandoned at the door, this is grunt and grind time, 10 clumps of swamp-thick prehistoric metal designed only to sate the basest of urges. Even at its cleanest, a track like ‘Cut It Short’ sounds like a soiled old-school QOTSA, four days into a week-long binge and being dragged balls first through a muddy hedgerow by a giggling Brent Hinds. The bass growls and lumbers from start to end like Barry White with a hangover, while the balance between Aaron Beam’s stoner croon and Bryan Giles’ tortured bellow is mesmerising, the latter sounding like the start of a Willy Wonka-esque descent into Earth’s seediest realms, giving the album a darker feel than past releases. Despair creeps into tracks like ‘The Smell of the Sound’ and ‘I Am A Ghost’ like you’ve accidentally played a Nails or All Pigs Must Die track at half-speed, and when Giles screams “you are the enemy” or “gonna make you wish you’d died”, there is genuine fear he’s talking directly to you. Until now, it’s arguable that Red Fang have been best known for their brilliant videos, but with album number four, as always, it’s the songs that count. Though solid and destined to be loved by fans new and old, ‘Only Ghosts’ probably won’t set the mainstream alight, but it is a defiant step up, and you’d be a fool to bet against seeing them sub-headlining or topping a second stage in a field near you next summer.

Red Fang - Only ghosts

Categories: Album Reviews, Reviews

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