ALBUM REVIEW: Only Ghosts – Red Fang

American metal giants RED FANG have returned with their fourth studio album, Only Ghosts.

The album opens with Flies, a powerful start to the album which showcases RED FANG’s persona; consistent, hard rock, and it delivers one of the band’s catchiest choruses and guitar patterns.  While bass work from Aaron Beam is well done throughout the album, it truly shines in Flies. A mix of clean and harsh vocals make it a truly enjoyable track with plenty of variety. Cut It Short quickly follows, featuring an interesting minimalist bridge and guitar work that’s reminiscent of QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE in parts. This said, the chorus screams of their earlier work, and the chorus is full of the glorious riffs that RED FANG is known for.

Flames consists of a one-chord repetition, and is an interesting display of experimentation from the band. However, it doesn’t quite seem to pay off in this album. It’s by no means a bad thing, nor does it compromise the quality of the album, it just feels like filler and temporarily disconnects the listener from the tempo of the album.  Flames would be an interesting base for another project from RED FANG, however it doesn’t feel like its home is in Only Ghosts. After Flames, No Air throws you straight back into the riffs and sound that’s synonymous with RED FANG. With its rough vocals and gritty guitar work, it’s one of the best tracks of the album. Drum work from John Sherman is consistently impressive throughout the album, but it’s wonderful in this song alongside Bryan Giles’ vocals.

Shadows follows with a rowdy chorus and a slapping bass line that keeps the song firmly in your head. Considering it starts off relatively fast paced, it manages to pick up tempo even more towards the end, making the song truly rise up to RED FANG’s high standard. Not for You has the same trick up its sleeve as other songs in the album. It’s full of slow, heavy riffs and catchy choruses (you’ll be singing the chorus to yourself all week).  Towards the end of the track it progresses into a fast-paced behemoth that manages to keep its riffs heavy and glorious.

In terms of progressions, however, The Smell of the Sound takes the top prize on this album. It’s an example of song writing done brilliantly by a band who know each other and have a unified idea for a song. Technically, it can be argued that this is RED FANG’s best song yet. The Deep follows; a song reminiscent of their earlier work with groovy riffs that fail to disappoint. I Am a Ghost is an interesting track on this record, as it shows RED FANG experimenting again, but within the realms of what they already execute well. The psychedelic notes in this track give it a whole new flavour, while showing fans they haven’t lost their original sound by any means.

Only Ghosts comes to a triumphant close with Living in Lye. This track is a fantastic, up-tempo finisher to a solid album from RED FANG that’s enjoyable from start to finish, and arguably the absolute highlight of the album.

Only Ghosts is a clear marker of their progression over RED FANG’s career. It makes them a real contender as one of the top performers in metal/hard rock, and shows that RED FANG have got the right idea with their music. It’s just as quirky, rough, and catchy as ever, with some new experimental twists to keep you on your toes.  If you’re looking for some crunching riffs and choruses that’ll keep you awake at night because they won’t leave your head, Only Ghosts has plenty to offer.

Rating: 9/10

Only Ghosts - Red Fang

Only Ghosts is set for release on October 14 via Relapse Records. 

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