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Red Fang’s Arrows: stoner sultans take a turn for the weird

Portland weirdbears Red Fang tweak the stoner formula on new album Arrows with impressive results

Red Fang - Arrows
(Image: © Relapse)

For more than a decade we’ve come to rely on Red Fang, always knowing they’ll bring some of the dirtiest yet catchiest riffs around, while oozing an enormous sense of fun from every orifice. However, the stoner quartet we find in 2021 are a familiar yet mutated being, with the spacey exploration that began to seep through on 2016’s Only Ghosts seemingly consuming the whole of this fifth effort. The full-throttle tracks are still there, most notably in the form of the rollicking, fuzzy twang of My Disaster and the short, sharp stomp of Rabbits In Hives. But from the rumbling mire of opener Take It Back onwards it’s clear that this is a darker, more nefarious version of Red Fang, with subtle synths and a procession of menacing moods throughout.

Having worked with superstar production duo Ross Robinson and Joe Barresi last time around, Arrows welds its more adventurous approach with traditional boisterous heft thanks to returning producer Chris Fun. His knob-twiddling makes use of the fur-covered tones yet still delivers the grunt when it’s required. Anodyne’s weird psychedelic verses give way to an avalanche of a chorus, while the monolithic stomp of Fonzi Scheme is set off-balance by some extremely angular strings. Even on the more melodic refrain of the title track the vocals sound more monstrous than usual, while the trippy slow-burn of Days Collide is given a jolt of life two and a half minutes in to shake the beast from its cavernous slumber.

Longtime fans needn’t worry, as there’s still plenty of humour to be found buried just beneath the surface, and Arrows will certainly deliver the ideal soundtrack for 43 minutes of raucous headbanging, beer swilling and whatever extra-curricular activity is required. There’s just a bit more to chew on afterwards.