Looking at the current scene across the Stoner/Desert/Sludge spectrum the quality of bands is extremely high - there's certainly no shortage of riffs let's put it that way. A band who have emerged as one of the leading lights in the sub-genre over the last decade or so are Red Fang to a point where they've surpassed some of the more old school, legendary, bands who have dominated the scene for so long. The difference with Red Fang is that they've proven time and again that you can make this music more accessible without losing any of its edge. They've always driven forwards, arguably growing as songwriters with every new release whilst also conveying this addictive attitude of not really taking anything too seriously. They're Red Fang; they turn up, play riffs, cause a ruckus, have some fun and leave you in a bundle of joy and sweat. On announcing that they were bringing Ross Robinson in to produce Only Ghosts there was admittedly a little concern that they'd lose this fun edge to a more serious approach. But if there's one thing Ross Robinson knows how to do, it's to grasp the already present level of quality by the throat and expand that in to an absolute force.
As far as the actual performances are concerned, much like with any Ross Robinson release, you've got an elevation beyond anything they've done before. Vocally both Aaron Beam and Bryan Giles sound absolutely massive, with their heightened intensity and force taking centre stage throughout the record. It's not just in the vocals though, this partnership between Red Fang and Ross Robinson has truly paid off across the record, it's crunchier, snappier, heavier and at times feels like pressure cooker about to explode.
There are some real highlights across the album in tracks we expect to see featured heavily in Red Fang live sets for some time to come. The double whammy of No Air and Shadows around midway through the album hits phenomenally hard, as does the stupendous final track Living In Lye. The first two Red Fang records have been firm favourites within this scene since their release and where the third did drop off slightly Only Ghosts has brought it back in a big way. Again with the Ross Robinson influence proving strong this just feels like a far more focused and concise beast.
Overall then, in a year in which so many top quality albums have been released there is a risk that you may drop off the radar for releasing anything even below excellent. Well Red Fang have nothing to fear, this will almost certainly drop in to a fair few of those end of year lists and they'll continue absolutely pummelling everyone live. We hope this Red Fang/Ross Robinson connection continues going forward.