Venus on Edge
Reviewed by: Max Miller
Hooded Fang sound just as unpredictable as a band named after a sandwich should be. The Toronto-based four-piece, named for a Portuguese ham and cheese sandwich, make, for lack of a better term, experimental rock. Their eclectic style, while touching on aspects of post-punk, surf rock and garage rock, is more comfortably relegated to the grey areas of the genre rainbow with artists like Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart or any of the bands beneath the comically-widespread Krautrock umbrella who don’t actually sound much like Neu! or Kraftwerk.
On Venus On Edge, their fourth full-length, Hooded Fang make a driving rock ‘n’ roll racket, loosely comparable to Thee Oh Sees’ Carrion Crawler/The Dream and Floating Coffin sound. Many of the record’s ten tracks are built around bassist April Aliermo and drummer D. Alex Meeks creating a propulsive groove over which nerve-wracking guitar melodies intermingle with vocalist Daniel Lee’s Iggy Pop-esque drone-singing. Lee and Lane Halley’s guitars often sound thin and angry, like a starving dog, as they needle their way through cuts like “Glass Shadows” and “Shallow.” The use of heavily-phased fuzz to create supreme dissonance recalls Jay Reatard’s Lost Sounds.
The downside to Hooded Fang’s atypical sound is that they utilize it to explore the same sonic space again and again. The biggest deviation from the formula they make comes when they go for a more chaotic, stuttering groove on “Venus,” or turn the distortion down (but still continue at the same headlong pace) on “Miscast.” This monochromatic bent means that if you don’t find the band’s aggro-rocking particularly compelling, you’re unlikely to find another entry point into this record. As with Hooded Fang’s edible namesake, sometimes it’s alright to keep things simple; plenty of people enjoy a plain ol’ toasted ham and cheese. Eventually, however, if you want to keep your restaurant open, you may need to indulge in some more variety.