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Pulling Teeth - "Funerary" (CD)

Pulling Teeth - "Funerary" CD cover image

"Funerary" track listing:

1. A Bitter Harvest (:56)
2. From Birth (2:34)
3. Extinction (1:38)
4. Brain Drain (1:31)
5. The New Dark Ages (2:28)
6. Grudgeholder (2:33)
7. Plastic Tombs (2:27)
8. Funerary (10:03)
9. At Peace (7:20)
10. Whispers (5:57)
11. Waiting (4:14)
12. August 29 (6:05)

Reviewed by on September 21, 2011

"'Funerary' is a taut, emotional ride that signals the apex of Pulling Teeth’s career."

Emotion is a powerful ally musicians tend to gloss over. Bands can fake emotion well - how many awful woe-is-me, I-hate-everything songs have been written in the past 5 years alone? - but finding a raw, heart-breaking emotional response is slim. Pulling Teeth’s latest album “Funerary” deals with death and coping with the loss of a loved one in a soul-wrenching manner. The metallic hardcore act also happens to set across their most challenging group of songs to date, and has become more than just a good hardcore band from Baltimore, Maryland.

This progression has been brewing since their last album, the excellent “Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions.” The sludgy tempos of that record have taken up the entire second side of “Funerary.” The record is a division between the “Martyr Immortal” era of the band, and a whole new angle built off of songs like “Paranoid Delusions” and “Paradise Illusions.” Splitting up the tracks this way will have implications; some may turn it off after the first echoing guitar note in the title track, while others will skip ahead past the usual fare for the experimental side of the band.

Then there are those that liked where Pulling Teeth was heading on “Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions.” Those fans will get the most enjoyment out of “Funerary.” The first half is jammed with explosive riffs and outrageous solos, all the while keeping a contained format of about two minutes per song. “Plastic Tombs” has an unexpected death metal-influenced breakdown that pumps up the metal quotient in their hardcore sound.

The ten-minute title track begins a promising direction for Pulling Teeth. The five songs at the tail-end of “Funerary” intimidate instead of roar, disconcerting the plans the band have spent the past few albums working from. The pace is held back, and the band drops any speedy qualms for moody layers of clashing noise. Pale Creation’s Nick Fiction, Gnarly Rueage’s Jennifer Romeo, Integrity’s Dwid Hellion, and Gehenna’s Mike Apokalypse all make a viable appearance on the tune.

“At Peace” and “Whispers” are the catchiest songs on “Funerary,” but also the most heavy-handed from a lyrical front. The band members lost several family members and friends close to them before and during the recording of “Funerary.” Angst riddles every song on the latter half of the record, and it feels like the band, especially vocalist Mike Riley, is using this album as a therapeutic device. When Riley screams, “Never will I ever get to tell you that I love you again,” on “At Peace,” he comes off as sincere in his emotional pain.

“Funerary” is a taut, emotional ride that signals the apex of Pulling Teeth’s career. Each album brings out new surprises from the band, and they haven’t disappointed yet. Like every previous release, “Funerary” has gone undetected by way too many people. It snuck out a few months back, but is worth hunting down and cherishing. Pulling Teeth has once again pushed metallic hardcore away from the norm and into a style that can only be stamped as something from Pulling Teeth.

Highs: Nice division between the standard-fare metallic hardcore and experimental material, band pushes themselves in new directions, emotionally sharp from start to finish

Lows: On occasion, the second half drags, but it's only momentary

Bottom line: Pulling Teeth has put together the best album since its formation with the masterful "Funerary."

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)