Sludge Metal Displays Why Orange Is The New Red

Photo by Ryan Johnson
Photo by Ryan Johnson

It’s hard to imagine three bands better suited to play a bill and tour together than Red Fang, Bison, and Black Wizard. Granted, later plays just three shows with fellow GVRD brethren (Bison) and the Portland based headlining act.

Leaning strongly toward the Doom / Stoner Metal base contributors to the subversive “Sludge Metal” genre Black Wizard wasted no time attacking the throat in front of an impressive 3/4 full Venue Nightclub on Granville street. As is less often the case than it should be, a fan of the headliner (on this tour) can confidently expect to enjoy the other two acts on the billing who share similar style, but harvest their own take or interpretation in it’s execution. Though not garnering quite the same commercial appreciation as the Georgia State trifecta of Mastodon, Baroness and Kylesa, the Pacific North West can still proudly raise their chin with a black tooth grin and boast of our sludgy merits.

Anyone who has taken a stroll through the Vancouver Metal Scene know of Bison, probably know someone in Bison, and are acutely aware of their live show reputation and energy they bring. Man-wiched between modern day genre kings and the voraciously hungry / fellow locally grown brethren Black Wizard currently nipping at Bison heels; the Biltmore alumni Bison played a tremendous and brilliantly plotted set, serving to both raise the bar on the evening’s entertainment as well as display their regional alpha status by not yet relinquishing their current title.

Setting Red Fang apart was a combination of inspiring factors. Yes, the experience and therefore confidence a unit gains from playing as many shows in as many locations and in front of as many people as Red Fang has over their eleven years together is going to register on the positive scale. Having the exact four-person lineup over said eleven-year duration is an additional feather in the collective cap. But what ultimately made Red Fang show sonic dominance over the others in large part came down to gear. With an incredible allegiance to Orange Amps, Red Fang might as well be a traveling Orange Amps press junket. Both guitars as well as the bass stacks embodying the dominant force in amplifying technology’s Orange insignia, its amazing that these cats are not sponsored by the outfit.

The fullness and richness or Red Fang’s sound throughout their entire set is an under-credited and a large contributor to what elevates the group to giant status. The sound team that travels with the band and therefore having ample opportunity to dial in the band’s envisioned sound could try as they might with a Fender Supersonic / 5150 (Solid State) combination, however, it is doubtful that they could land on that same fullness and omni-thick, yet comfortably clear Red Fang sound.

In the end, it was exactly the show that fans of this subgenre of a subgenre would devise on paper. It entertained all expectations, sounded and felt good. From the grateful vibe of the bands, stoked to be in each other’s company, to the positive vibe of the Thursday night Venue Nightclub crowd Red Fang, Bison, and Black Wizard delivered the “A” goods representing the pacific north west as a dominate force in Heavy Sludge, a gang not to be trifled with. Highly recommended if ever they put the three of these acts in the same venue, don’t sleep on any one of these bands when they play collectively or individually.