Release Date: June 4th, 2021
Label: Relapse Records
For Fans Of: Melvins, Fu Manchu, Acid King
Long before all the world’s music was available with a single push on a glass screen, band’s built albums that were whole worlds. From the mood-setting intro to that perfect closer that nestles the themes in your chest for the rest of the day, the album was more a door to another dimension rather than twelve singles. Red Fang have understood this for most of their career.
The four-piece have been around since 2005, slowing down Melvins-metal to a pace that shouldn’t feel right—but somehow does. Everything is in slo-mo, yet it never drags. It’s stoner rock at its best. Red Fang have nailed the genre, accentuating its best features while still setting themselves apart.
This trait isn’t unique to Arrows however. Across their four previous albums they’ve been willing to dive into different sounds while still staying intrinsically Red Fang. From the sheer chaos of 2011’s Murder The Mountain to the more straightforward rock of 2016’s Only Ghosts—not to mention the mighty anthem that is “Blood Like Cream” from their wildly acclaimed Whales and Leeches—Red Fang have proven they won’t stay in one pocket for long.
Arrows is another example of the experimentation they’ve prided themselves on.
Opening with the eerie, two-minute ‘Take It Back,’ the scene is set. Arrows sets the tone early and despite the sonic variety, all the songs take place in this creepy world. A sense of doom precedes everything, with the sense that evil is lurking just behind the distortion, trouble inside every kick drum pound. Its musical-world-building at its most encapsulating. The sound is huge—in no small part because some of the drums were recorded in an empty swimming pool—filling any room you happen to hit play in. This is best seen on ‘Interlop-Mod’ where the wall of sound almost overwhelms the senses. Meanwhile, “Two High” has a riff that will melt faces at any volume and ‘Days Collide’ could serve as a sludge metal how-to.
What sets Red Fang apart is that they’re not afraid to take chances and step outside the genre’s confines however—see the strings on ‘Fonzi Scheme’ or the short two minute tracks scattered throughout, that serve as tone setting (or shifting) moments—making Arrows an album you keep coming back to. It rewards the most loyal fans, revealing new sounds and themes with each listen. It’s one of those rare growers that is amazing on first listen and somehow gets even better.
At the core of Arrows is a lack of urgency that bodes well for its unstated aim of feeling like a Bong Joon-ho movie. As a result, Arrows is a tentative walk down a shadowy hallway, the sense of foreboding growing with each track—and like any good horror movie, by the end you’re both haunted and thoroughly entertained.
Recommended track: ‘Days Collide’