RED FANG - 'Arrows' Album Review
1. Take It Back
2. Unreal Estate
4. My Disaster
5. Two High
8. Fonzi Scheme
9. Days Collide
10. Rabbits In Hives
12. Dr Owl
13. Funeral Coach
RED FANG, the Portland-based four piece Rock band are back with their first full length release in five years, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag really. The album starts off on an unusual note, with the atmospheric, ominous opening drones of ‘Take It Back’. It’s purely an ambient tone-setter, but it sets the scene nicely, before things kick off with ‘Unreal Estate’, a sludgy off-kilter track that gives your first real taste of the sound of this album. It isn’t their strongest effort, with the vocal melodies meandering throughout and not offering up enough hooks to keep your attention through its five minute runtime. Lead single ‘Arrows’ on the other hand is a more typical RED FANG song, with its winding rhythms and catchy vocals, but it still doesn’t have the instant appeal of their earlier work.
Things pick up more with ‘Two High’, which shows the band throwing some psychedelic guitar effects into the mix, alongside one of the more memorable choruses on the album. ‘Anodyne’ is another strong tune here, with the aggression in the chorus giving it real impact and the twin lead guitars in the bridge playing great off one another. After a brief interlude, this hot streak continues with ‘Fonzi Scheme’, which is given an extra shot of a drama with the addition of string instruments in the second half. This is one of the spots on the album where the bands’ experimentation on this album really pays off, coming across like a Doom Metal version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’. The hits just keep coming with ‘Day Collide’, a slow burner of a track that seems to possibly have a bit of a 90s Alternative Rock/Grunge influence. The song has a weighty atmosphere that isn’t heavy in the usual sense, but more emotionally heavy and offers a great change of pace.
There’s some Classic Hard Rock tracks on here like ‘Dr. Owl’, ‘Rabbits In Hives’ and ‘Funeral Coach’ that are good songs, but they don’t stand out amongst the band’s discography and the production here doesn’t help either. The production was the first thing that stood out about this album compared to the rest of their discography, and unfortunately not for the right reasons. This record is noticeably muddier than previous releases, with the guitars lacking the bite you expect from RED FANG and the vocals frequently getting lost in the mix. It’s not bad production by any means, but they’ve done significantly better in the past and it’s hard to go back to this album after listening to older records since.
RED FANG have certainly taken some risks on this album, branching out into influences that they might not normally wear on their sleeve and it has paid off in places here, particularly in the strong run of tracks from ‘Two High’ to ‘Days Collide’, but their new approach to production here leaves a lot to be desired. In rare spots, it does highlight the lo-fi energy of certain tracks well, however I can’t help but feel that the majority of the album would benefit from more clarity in the instrumentation. Whilst it isn’t their best work, it’s good to see the band trying new things five albums deep into their career.
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Review - Spencer Rixon