Local Love: Funeral Horse
Houston’s music scene feels like it’s on the rise every day. Last year I was turned on to a doom/stoner metal band called Funeral Horse who made this sick and dark album, “Sinister Rites of The Master,” and who played these intense live sets. What blew me away then as it does today, that these guys are a three piece that sounds heavier and deeper than some five piece bands. Recently they released the follow up to that album, “Divinity For The Wicked,” and it’s just as sludge heavy and stoned out as their previous work. This time around they add epic guitar jams and heavier solos that put them ahead of what bands like The Sword and Red Fang have been releasing lately, and they do so with fewer members.
The album kicks off with the jammed out pace of “There Shall Be Vultures,” where the band channels the likes of Thin Lizzy and Fu Manchu. Distorted vocals, this snappy drum fill, and murky bass are implemented alongside this nice and dirty guitar riff that stays throughout the track. There are breakdowns that stop and start with precise timing before this squealing solo that’s like tires hitting the pavement from a getaway vehicle comes in. Towards the end of the song, they pick up the pace and take the song to a new place that’s riff chunky and thick before finishing it off. This gets followed by a very formal opening on “Underneath All That Ever Was.” The slow and murky speed of the track slumps along without losing momentum or losing your attention. Around the middle of the track things slow down before these electronics come in and take the song to an almost ‘end of a Beatles album’ jam that feels grand and more diverse than anything they’ve done before. Complete with a winding solo that glues the jam together, it’s obvious that Funeral Horse have upped their game since their last album. They even add a dirty bass piece to cap things off and thus setting it further apart from everything else in their genre.
The more Eastern vibe of the third song, “A Bit of Weed,” comes in as a nice palate cleanser. Just a little acoustic jam, it’s over before it gets going, yet still feels at home on the album. The band takes the album further down the rabbit hole on “Gods of Savages” with this very seventies reverbed guitar intro before coming in with traditional metal riffs to take you off to those beautiful dark places. The quicker speed of the song coupled with the chunky basslines and bombastic kit sounds makes you appreciate that these guys can take any track into a thick jam that always pays off. The three piece goes into their own world of thick riffs and smattering drums and keeps it there for over a minute on the track that’s one of the standouts on the album. Dark and creepy whispering opens the fifth track, “Yigael’s Wall” with bluesy Black Sabbath like riffs weaving on and off the song before getting heavy. If you can be patient and wait for the drop, then you will get rewarded with a thick and fuzzy jam before they bring it all back to a slower pace. These reverbed Ozzy like vocals emit before the band starts playing on 11 and going harder and harder with each hefty riff. Another standout on the album, the song has the kind of depth and growth I wish more stoner/doom bands would experiment with. They really open their legs on the song and take it back and forth between a fantasy world and the darkness of Neptune’s depths.
The band goes even further with the Southern riffed opening of “Cities of the Red Night.” Like a darker Lynyrd Skynyrd, Funeral Horse gives you a bluesy opening that feels like you’re hearing outside of a biker bar on a Tuesday night. This goes on for a while, and really has it’s own groove before a flute comes onto the track while the guitar falls into the background of the song. Though it has hints of Jethro Tull, it’s a really nice little jam and believe it or not, the flute works. The track eventually leaves both behind in favor of bells that jingle along and really give you an appreciation for the band’s diversity. Things are closed off with the heavy and grimey jam, “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh.” Though it’s nice to see a band experiment, this kind of riff heavy sound is definitely where Funeral Horse shines. Loud, unapologetic, and melodic in the track’s weight, the three piece takes you on a ride that feels like you were beckoned to take….and that you’re happy to go on. They also keep things fresh by closing off the song with a bagpipe solo that you can’t imagine not belonging on the track.
When it’s all over with, the album demands another listen. The way in which these guys flow with heavy riffs, with gliding solos, and with a thunderous percussive mix between their drummer and bassist; it’s not hard to see why they’ve been getting press outside of Houston. You can get one of the very limited gatefold vinyls of the album when they play at Rudyard’s on October 30th with Bellringer and Baron Von Bomblast. The 21 & up show has doors at 9:30 and a $10.00 cover.