02 Aug 2021 - Thorsten
Sludge | Relapse Records | Release date: 04 Jun 2021
Red Fang are back and release their fifth full-length after a (more or less) five-year-break and one should see that the band has “grown” a bit. Were they know foremost for their “funny videos” and their tongue-in-cheek-humor has the band evolved quite a bit – especially musically. Arrows knows when it’s better to step off the gas and give the songs some new facades.
That shall not imply that there is not a pedal-to-the-medal song on the new record - the last two songs, ”Dr. Owl” and ”Funeral Coach” are able to please the fans of their high-voltage version of Sludge Metal. However, the first tracks showcase a band that has tried a lot to find some new paths and ways for their songwriting. They are true to the genre they helped flame up in the years after the millennium, but found some interesting new approaches to their songs.
The opener ”Take It Back” is a slowly building intro with some wavering feedback over some industrial beats. That these industrial, noisy elements to Red Fang’s sound then lead over into the second track and real opener ”Unreal Estate” and its rather stomping, chopped off-riffs over a very interesting drum pattern mixing tribals and sturdy percussion. The songs often embrace some noise-elements so that the riffs are not simply over-the-top distorted but have that gritty sound to them that makes them more interesting. This is not your average Allman-Brothers-meets-Integrity-sound, they saved these remnants of their former sound for the last songs, as mentioned before. The other songs can surprise with their ear for detail – for example the soft guitar picking of ”Days Collide”, the near-post-punkish melody in ”Why” or the string elements in the middle of ”Fonzi Scheme”.
The two “singers” Aaron Beam and Maurice Bryan Giles are still pumping iron blood through the vocal chords still sounding like a mix of sandpaper, whiskey and a grater. The lyrics show some signs of having gotten older, too: ”In my better days alive I ruled the sky” (from ”Days Collide”) or ”You’ve got nothing to say when you’re old and tired and grey – are you fading away?” (from ”The Fonzi Scheme”). If these are signs of admitting your own age to the younger generations? Maybe. Maybe not. The band is not done yet and that is clearly shown with this record.
Now the big question of course remains – is the new sound on Arrows a step forward for Red Fang? It seems as if they try to keep some of their “fun” elements like the hilarious color scheme of the record’s cover, some funny song titles or fast songs. On the other side they reveal some things they didn’t show before – like the aforementioned details or four shorter interludes. All this displays a kind of evolution without trying to lose some of one’s trademarks – certainly a good idea. Will they keep all of their former fans? Most of them, probably. Will they gain a lot of new fans? Maybe, hopefully. They deserve to be known for more than just funny videos.