Orion Music and More Fest might give regular European metal festivalgoers something to drool about. But, it also presents the opportunity for people to dip their feet into the pool of stoner metal. While people may know The Sword (thank you Guitar Hero), Consequence of Sound has already led a journey to discover Black Tusk. And, while we’re on the subject of bands that are a color + a repository of calcium, Red Fang is the third in the drone trio and a group worth discovering.
Red Fang describes their goal as “To create music that appeals to both the thinking and the banging head,” and with two records and some sweet opening slots (Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plan) under their belt, they’ve definitely surpassed their goals. Hailing from Portland, the group brings heavy metal to a good balancing point. While the elitist metal crowd might cry out for crazy time signatures and blastbeats, Red Fang opts for the 4/4 chug and solos with melodic lines that can actually get stuck in your head. Sure, there are the scattered bits of technical metal, drum fills that feel endless and dropped tunings that’ll crumble building foundations, but those are used to make things exciting, rather than as a crutch.
The vocals lie somewhere between …And Justice for All and Mastodon’s cleaner vocals, and combined with Red Fang’s fast sections or slow chugs, they further exemplify that “balance.” While the instrumentals are heavy by anyone’s standards, the vocals can be considered borderline clean, or at least clean enough to be able to learn a chorus after two listens. They claim they don’t like to be restricted to a genre, which shows on their self-titled debut. There can be the power chord-ridden “Wings of Fang”, which is essentially the Buzzcocks fronted by Brent Hinds, or the six-minute slow burn of “Humans Remain Human Remains”, which would get even a Mogwai fan to turn his or her head.
The bass is overdriven, the riffs are supercharged, and the vocals sound like a man singing with a cactus in his throat, but that’s perfect for Red Fang. While you might not be listening to all of Sleep’s Dopesmoker right after your first Red Fang show, they are still the perfect choice of drone-y stoner metal break between Kyng and Suicidal Tendencies. Imagine the aerial view of the field, a helicopter shot of thousands of people headbanging, windmilling, and wishing they had long, flowing hair while opting to see the smoothest fusion of stoner metal and heavy metal on today’s metal market.