October 26, 2016 Red Fang – Only Ghosts (Album Review)
Trends and styles change constantly. Currently, Heavy Metal/Rock-n-Roll is in the midst of the Stoner and Sludge movement, which may have flourished out of the later Doom era wafting throughout the Grunge era and clearing its way into full emergence in the mid 2000s. That said, Portland Oregon’s Red Fang, in all their Stoner Sludge and heavy Rock-n-Roll glory, are a band that has been an important part of the emerging scene. Standing tall above the crowd, they are still writing and releasing albums, much to the enjoyment of their fanbase. Together since 2005, and debuting with their self-titled album in 2009, their fourth full-length, Only Ghosts, was released via Relapse Records on October 14, 2016. Their first album since 2013’s Whales and Leeches, it is their second straight to break the Billboard 200 and looks to offer fans another well-crafted piece of music.
Led by Bryan Giles on guitar and vocals, Aaron Beam on bass guitar and vocals, David Sullivan on lead guitar, and John Sherman on drums, Only Ghosts is ten tracks in total, opening with”Flies.” Featuring some creative, fast, and fun riffage with clean and dirty Rock vocals that almost have a reminiscence to the vocal tone of Dave Grohl, Beam’s approach keeps its own flavor. Following with the catchy track “Cut It Short,” there is a flavor of Funk and depicts a story of irony. Only about a mere minute and a half in length, “Flames” is the shortest piece of the album, but with a instrumental Sludge noise effect, it emits a vision of a camp fire in an unusual way.
Traveling back to the land of the sludgy lyrics and Stoner Rock jams, slightly reminiscent of High On Fire, but with a mellower undertone, they offer “No Air.” Moving on, “Not For You” once again enters as a song that has a Foo Fighter vibe, yet falls a bit more in the Stoner category in regards to guitar riffs and vocals. Speaking of vocal harmonies, highlight cut “The Smell Of The Sound” features singing that is dynamically accomplished and the darker, more mystical tones take it above and beyond the norm for Beam, which is always exciting to encounter.
The latter section of Only Ghosts dives into a more interesting territory. The further it goes, the progression remains a success, although, the beginning almost fades from memory by the end. Conveying a similar tone as Mastodon in a sense, “The Deep” may be most representative of this type of sound. Then, “I Am A Ghost” is a dark little tune about “crying your eyes out,” etcetera, for the title tells all. The contradiction of the classic guitar riffing with the darker vocals is an interesting mix and the alternative vibe is apparent as well. Finally, “Living In Lye” is a party of Sludge in vocals, guitar, and drumming, bringing on an almost Punk Rock styled hitting.
Overall, Only Ghosts is a quality album from Red Fang that continues to develop and impress the masses with their brand of Rock-n-Roll. They are currently on tour in Europe and will take a very short hiatus before jumping into their North American tour beginning November 19th and ending in their hometown of Portland on December 17th. Overall a fun and well-crafted record that is an even mix of Stoner, Rock-n-Roll, and Sludge done in a very modern day Rock sort of way, CrypticRock gives Only Ghosts 4 out of 5 stars.