The Distillers – Coral Fang

The Distillers - Coral FangThe DistillersCoral Fang (Sire Records)

“He’s gone away / He’s gone away,” screams Brody Dalle at the end of “Drain the Blood,” the first track on Coral Fang. The Distillers’ third album opens with this quick street-punk anthem that recalls much of the group’s earlier work and teases to set the tone for more of the same.

However, as astute observers will note, the “Armstrong” is gone from Brody’s name, signifying her split with Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong, and much has changed. “He’s gone away” is not idle lamentation – it’s foreshadowing the next 45 minutes.

The second track, “Dismantle Me,” wastes no time in introducing a new sound. Singing like Courtney Love possessed by the spirit of Kurt Cobain, Dalle repeatedly moans in the chorus: “I want to bury you.” This is screaming punk with a rock and roll soul that follows a hard/soft formula atypical of the Distillers’ previously established sound.

As the album progresses, Dalle’s passionate and expressive singing takes over. Her simultaneously rough and well-trained voice has improved considerably since the Distillers’ self-titled debut. No matter what she’s saying, she demands attention. And her trademark screams still resonate like a chainsaw between the ears.

Although the Distillers remain rooted in street and gutter punk, they fearlessly explore other areas of punk and hard rock over the course of Coral Fang. Some of these attempts succeed and others fail. “The Gallow is God,” which operates on a much slower pace than traditional punk, feels Metallica-goes-acoustic awkward. On the other hand, the new-wave guitar riff that runs through “For Tonight You’re Only Here to Know” works surprisingly well. “The Hunger,” which lasts almost five and a half minutes – a startling departure from the one-to-three-minute cuts that characterized the band’s first two albums – falls somewhere in the abyss between.

Just like Iggy was the Stooges [Ahem, don’t say that around the Asheton brothers – Ed.], Dalle is the Distillers. Although her band does a decent job of backing the songs, Dalle’s singing and writing dominates the soundscape of Coral Fang. The only drawback to her taking all the songwriting credits for this album is that her breakup with Tim Armstrong seems to overpower its themes and stifle its intricacies. At times Dalle sounds like she’s overextending herself simply to make a statement. Hopefully more of a fad than a direction that the Distillers will choose to follow in the future, Coral Fang makes a strong argument that the only thing that’s inevitable, in both life and music, is change.

You can listen to the album and watch a video via the Distillers’ player.

14 thoughts on “The Distillers – Coral Fang”

  1. Grrrr! You beat me to the punch – I was about to review “Coral Fang” for GLONO. It’s a great album, though – much more melodic than the last time. The ‘backing’ musicians are wonderful in it, though – what they’re playing is much more intricate and technical than anything on “Sing Sing Death House” but as a result seems a little less edgy. As long as Brody doesn’t morph further into Courtney Love, though, we’re all okay.

  2. I agree with the review – the Distillers are obviously a solid punk act, but this album was a disappointment. What they’ve done best is straight-up punk, and Sing Sing was a great album. But Coral Fang finds Dalle and crew stretching themselves a bit thin.

  3. Personally, I think Coral Fang is a great album. It’s just getting shit because it went from indie to major label which happens to alot of indie bands that get big. I really liked “the hunger” and think this album is definitely worth listeining to

  4. Coral Fang is a great album, no doubt. The lyrics on this album are amazing, they’re very explicit and obscene. Brody does an amazing job at singing with her raspy rough voice. The band is better than ever with the new addition of another guitarist, Tony Bradley. Coral Fang is more practiced than Sing Sing Death House. However, Coral Fang sounds very radioland, if you will. But, all in all, Coral Fang is a great album.

  5. I think that “coral fang” really is an amazing album overall. Its true that distillers have changed their style into a less heavy sound… more radio worthy. but the songs still contain powerful lyrics and amazing vocals by brodie. for me, the album was worth every cent.

  6. well from one melbournite to another this is truly an awsum listening experience. we knew she had this potential back in the “sourpuss” day’s.

    All the haters can “suck a tail pipe”

  7. no matter what anybody says, this album is superb. as soon as i had heard drain the blood two to three times, i went out and bought this album, there is only two songs on it which i don’t like, ‘the gallow is god’ and ‘deathsex’. i think that this album should win album of the year!!

  8. I’m a huge Distillers fan and I have to say that this album was very shocking. It’s great none the less but it was quite different then the other ones. I think she’s just progressing in her writting and becoming more serious…it is kind of hard to take brody serious but I think she’s amazing and have already adapted to this new found sound. It’s great! It’s slower but it’s just as cool as the last two. I wish they would come to Canada!! haha k bye

  9. coral fang is amazing. i got it the day it came out and ive been a huge distillers fan for ages. youre right that its different to the other albums, but i think its a good development. their style on this album is unique and when these guys play the songs live you can feel the passion and energy they feel when doing it. especially from Brody. its some personal stuff and i really admire her for moulding her pain and experiences into such great music. Respect to her and the rest of the band. amazing!

  10. I think Coral Fang is an awesome album I like how they are doing something a bit new but my opinion is I love the Coral Fang album

  11. First, Brody Dalle is a force to be reckoned with. You can hate her, but you better not tell her to her face. Second, this album is good. It has some great moments. The hole-like sound is, at times, creepy. Not as good as previous albums, but not one to trash either.

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