Pulling Teeth - Funerary
2011, A389 Recordings
As I sat down to listen to this album for the first time, I did so with slight trepidation and a vague uneasiness. It had the promise of becoming a strangely disapointing and yet somehow filling experience.
Let me explain.
I have always liked Pulling Teeth's blend of musical styles and admired the cathchy ruggedness of their songwriting; the way they pull it off without sounding forced or contrived. I've also always liked the way their albums sound, the way they're produced, how you can always hear all the individual instruments in the mix. My main problem with the band is the fact that they've never really hooked me. Like I said, their songwriting is rock solid. I just never really got into them. Which is weird, because all the necessary elements are there. The grindcore-like blasts, the classic doom heaviness, the black metal tremolo picking, the HUGE metallic hardcore-foundation, the almost equally huge old school hardcore base, the Slayer-ish riffing.
But. They just don't gel for me.
Or rather, they didn't use to gel for me. We'll get to that in a bit.
So, this was why I was hesitant to listen to the album even though I knew I would probably like it, if only in theory, rather than in practice. Or would appreciate it's various constituent parts if not their sum.
With the band's fourth and latest full length release, Funerary, something's happened. All of a sudden it clicked. Everything fell into place. Just like that. And still all those same elements are there, more or less in the same way they were before, being handled in the same way as before. But now they work for me.
The album consists of twelve songs running around 48 minutes and it's been slaying me all this past week. It starts off with an odd little shimmering melodic guitar and organ (?) intro, that circles into a vicious bristling black metal/hardcore blitz on From Birth, replete with Morbid Angel-esque tremolo picking, black metal blast beats, abundant hardcore energy, short twisted guitar solos and Mike's snarling punkish vocal attacks, unloading pure venom: "You're fucked, from birth, just left to rot and die". The following two tracks basically follow the lead of From Birth, dealing out thunderously fast and heavy metallic hardcore with loads of breakdowns and tempo changes and super memorable riffing (and at least one guest appearance on vocals). These two tracks give way to the metal-heavy The New Dark Ages, which offers up a ton of shifts in tempos and riffing styles. We're thrown from plodding Melvins-inspired chugging doom-riffs to black metal tremolo melodies underscored by smattering doubled bass drums to short furious blast beats and then back again. A couple of stand-out tracks in the latter part of this already stand-out album are the epic title track which is simply one of the better doom metal songs I've heard in years and next-to-last track, Waiting, which features an amazing chorus with great clean vocals.
The rest of the album is equally dynamic in scope and range and covers all the angles of Pulling Teeth's particular style. But this time they do it, somehow, better. Or perhaps it's just a matter of my musical taste developing and evolving, because now that I revistit the band's earlier recordings, particularly Vicious Skin and Paranoid Delusuions, I find myself getting hooked almost as easily as I was by Funerary. Time, in other words to revisit the band's entire back catalogue and give them another well deserved try.