Earlier this year, Red Fang traveled with a group that might be their perfect foil, Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society. During the opening slot of a tour stop in Myrtle Beach, Portland’s Red Fang, clad in jeans and T-shirts, picked up their instruments and churned through one banger after another, stoked by an endless supply of sharp hooks and beefy riffs. Black Label Society ended the night with metal hair and metal outfits, Wylde singing into a microphone stand shaped like a guitar and jumping atop speakers to bang his head. Yes, both bands dealt in relentless riffs. For Black Label Society, they were justifications for the spectacle. For Red Fang, it was an end unto itself—no muss, no fuss.
That is what defines the reliably infectious crew of Bryan Giles, Aaron Beam, David Sullivan, and John Sherman. From “Prehistoric Dog,” the surprise 2009 hit that launched this group of kinetic intensity and grinning weirdo lyrics, to 2016’s similarly lean and un-mean Only Ghosts, Red Fang remain one of metal’s best modern answers to the question, “What happens when great players crack a few beers, smoke a little bud, and have fun?” Call them stoner metal. Call them hard rock. Whatever you call them, Red Fang are a blast.