While Red Fang’s fourth album immediately stands out as their first full-length since 2016’s Only Ghosts, it seems to hearken back to the Sludgy aspects of their earliest ventures. Tracks like ‘Unreal Estate’ and the title track reflect strong Melvins circa (A) Senile Animal vibes with their trudging riff patterns and eccentrically howled vocal lines. ‘Fonzi Scheme’ and ‘Days Collide’ elaborate further the former putting in a particularly potent stomp and the latter benefitting the most from the disorienting atmosphere.
But on the flip side, Arrows (Relapse Records) also sees their more up-tempo Hard Rock and Punk influences coming through just as prominently. The Punk is especially apparent on ‘My Disaster’ and ‘Rabbits In Hives’ as the two tracks are cacophonous blasts that fall just shy of the two-minute mark. ‘Anodyne’ is another one of the album’s strongest tracks, featuring a steady, almost danceable bassline with a catchy but sinisterly sneered refrain and haphazard guitar work.
Through it all, the musicianship has an almost demented quality that suits the rather slapdash songwriting approach. The production borders on claustrophobic compared to previous efforts, often dominating the bass to dominate the proceedings as the guitars surge between extra riff support and providing Noise Rock textures. The vocals are also interesting, showing off enough of a melodic timbre for the lines to be distinct with an abrasive edge. There are admittedly times where these layers get mushed in the mix, particularly the drums, but it thankfully never gets too incoherent.
Overall, Arrows does a solid job of presenting Red Fang’s Stoner Rock sound through a more unhinged lens. While the more Sludge-based sound seen here was more powerfully executed on Murder The Mountains or Whales And Leeches, the songs keep up their enjoyable melodicism and greatly benefit from the eclecticism on display. It may also take a little extra time to feel out but ultimately has enough of what fans have come to expect.
Buy Arrows here: https://bit.ly/redfangarrows
7 / 10