Red Fang
Whales and Leeches
Relapse Records

If Red Fang’s Whales and Leeches is proof of anything, it’s that the Portland quartet has grown well beyond its modern-sludge-meets-ZZ-Top roots. The blistering opening track, “DOEN,” kicks in with a rampaging, Sabbath-style stomp, ebbing and flowing with off-kilter riffs provided by bassist Aaron Beam and guitarists Bryan Giles and David Sullivan. Listening to such anthemic grinders as “Blood Like Cream,” “No Hope,” and “The Animal,” you realize just how much effort these musicians have put into focusing their sound without sacrificing the abrasive textures and fuzzed-out melodies that defined their previous work. The monstrously heavy main riff of “Dawn Rising” demonstrates the tight interplay and sense of groove that Giles, Sullivan, and Beam share. Clearly they understand how you play a riff is just as important as what notes are in it. This has always been the biggest strength of Red Fang’s songwriting, but on Whales and Leeches it has become second nature.

Must-hear track: “Blood Like Cream”