[HEAVINESS] The folks that pay attention to stuff like this (us music geeks) will notice two interesting things on the packaging of Red Fang's second full-length LP: the logo for Relapse Records and a producing credit for Decemberists guitarist Chris Funk. And from the sounds of Murder the Mountains, these additions to the band's already stocked arsenal of friends and supporters have had quite an impact on the new disc.
It's not that the quartet's self-titled debut was lacking sonic oomph in any way (it still stands as one of the Northwest's best hard-rock/metal releases since 2000), but having some label money to throw into the recording process for album No. 2 has helped give Red Fang an epic, Cinemascope-style boost. It's a huge-sounding album that keeps spilling over with lava-thick riffs and John Sherman's absolutely ferocious drumming. Having Funk on board obviously challenged the band to fill in this larger canvas with some surprising touches, like the xylophone that pops up to take over the melody during the breakdown in "Wires," and the eerie synth whine and post-production deconstruction that connects the slow simmering "Throw Up" with the punky blast of "Painted Parade."
Co-vocalists and songwriters Maurice Bryan Giles and Aaron Beam rise to the challenge presented by Funk with lyrics that plow some impressive emotional depths. "Into the Eye" matches the slow burn of the music with a wrenching look at the end of a relationship; "Wires" wraps in bereaved imagery that seems to be for soldiers toiling overseas ("Mother's not OK/ She lights a candle for every day that you're away").
But for all these steps forward, the molten core of Red Fang is still very much intact. It has just been given a greater chance of melting the minds of an entirely new fanbase. Let's hope they can handle the heat.
SEE IT: Red Fang plays Branx on Saturday, April 30, with Mongoloid Village, Lord Dying and Drunk Ladies. 9 pm. $10. All ages.