I’ve never been to the USA, but when I do I’m definitely going to Portland, Oregon. It seems like my kinda town.
A lot of good things have come out of Portland, including fantastic sci fi/fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin, who wrote one of the finest sci fi novels of all time – The Left Hand of Darkness.
Modest Mouse, Matt Groening and Chuck Palahniuk all hail from Portland too.
Portland has a great NBA team called the Trailblazers, featuring “The Natural” Brandon Roy, the next superstar of the NBA in LaMarcus Aldridge, and the best play-by-play radio caller in the history of human civilisation in Brian Wheeler. Check out some of Wheels’ finest work in this clip:
It’s also famous for its abundance of beer, and has more strip clubs per square mile than Las Vegas. For those that are into that kind of thing…
Anyway, I think we can now safely add Red Fang to the list of great things to come out of Portland.
Red Fang were snapped up by the eagle eyed talent spotters at Relapse Records after their well received self titled debut a couple of year’s ago, which means you get a nice Relapse-style CD package, featuring their resident artist Orion Landau. This artwork is more organic than the older, more clinical style he used for bands such as Disfear, Nile and Minsk. The cover features the mighty Shoggoth from H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains of Madness, in keeping with the title of the album.
As for the music, well, this is definitely a progression on their great debut. There’s nothing as immediately catchy as Prehistoric Dog (although there’s still heaps of up-tempo fuzz rock), but there is more depth and a greater confidence and precision on display here. The production is more polished, but doesn’t compress out the valvey goodness of the guitar. There’s plenty of hooky riffs, melodic layers and excellent solo work, so if you’re a guitar person like me you’ll have plenty to chew on here.
Here’s a clip of the first single off the album, Wires, which features the band in a Dozer kinda mood, with some nice expansive moments, rising action and crescendo. And a fun clip too.
If you’re a fan of any of the big stoner rock acts from the 90’s or early 2000’s – especially Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Dozer or the Melvins – then you’ll enjoy this, although at times you might be a little uncomfortable at how obviously the influences shine through.
I think this will be remembered as the album where the band perfected their sound, but not necessarily their style. I reckon we’ll see them nail down a style of their own and push some experimental boundaries on their next one – you can certainly see the genesis of something special here.
There’s plenty to enjoy on this album for fans of good heavy riffs, and they’d be a great band to see live too.