Arrows by Red Fang
Review by Sheldon Hubbard
If hypnotic, stoner dadcore held a torch then Red Fang would certainly hold a high one. Key notes of sounds similar to what they are known for are stitched together with a progressive niche that have brought to life Arrows, their fifth studio album to date. Not only does this album have gnarly aesthetics in terms of both sight and sound, it possesses a fun let’s-do-whatever-the-hell-we-want-because-we-can kind of playfulness with its soundscape (something rather satirically displayed throughout the title track’s music video - just watch it, it’s totally worth it!).
The first stretch of the album is introduced by “Take It Back,” a sludgy, dissonant intro. Then a robotic radio signal carries you into a crescendo of bass and percussion that instantly snaps into the slug of instrumentation that sets the tone for “Unreal Estate.” A track that cuts like the cables were sliced by a well-whetted, and rather expensive, katana sword. This slides you into the title track, whose sound can easily mirror the sharpness of the aforementioned katana.
“My Disaster” is the first of (what I’m calling) a few burst tracks. Songs that just give you a real blast of sound that you’d swear was inspired by classic hardcore punk. Then bits and bobs of scratchy robotics smooth out into the pulsating track, “Two High.” A shoe-in for a new stoner rock classic. Abruptly, you’re then thrown into what sounds like a seriously calculated jam sesh on “Anodyne.” Whether referencing the painkiller or general descriptor, it is anything but bland.
“Interop-Mod” is the second interludery burst track that seems to essentially act as a drum-driven introduction to “Fonzi Scheme;” a downright smashing track that froths with a heavy, psychedelic groove. “Days Collide” starts with a slow build that builds you toward a hammering midpoint, only to float you back down into soporific whirls of distorted riffage.
“Rabbits in Hives,” the final burst track that could totally be a theme song for a quirky, enigmatic anti-hero-type. “Why” has a darkly, dreamy vocal tone with a brimming drone of instrumentation to back it. Not preparing you for the uproarious head-knocker, “Dr. Owl.” A track that gets back to that calculated, hefty jam-style feel. Now, imagine a Frankensteinian mashing of (bear with me here) surfer rock style riffage, edgy staccato-stacked drums, and a haunting, almost operatic, vocal display that drives you full pedal to the metal...only to do the punkest thing ever, and just stop. Like the sound swung you off the right kind of cliff. *In the style of Yev Kassem from Seinfeld* “No sound for you!”
Arrows is an ear-splitting cleave that hones all of the best attributes of what Red Fang has to offer. Whether you have never heard of them until now, or are a superfan and have been waiting for this gourmet grand slam to come out, you will find yourself nodding your head - and perhaps even flailing your limbs in your bedroom - to this wildebeest of heaving rock. Don’t take these arrows to the knee, because they’re better set for the ears.