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The Funeral Pyre - "Wounds" (CD)

The Funeral Pyre - "Wounds" CD cover image

"Wounds" track listing:

1. Thieves (6:04)
2. Black Earth (4:02)
3. The Gathering Bones (5:02)
4. Wounds (8:41)
5. These Ties That Bind (4:12)
6. Arches Of Existence (5:44)
7. When The Light Ends (4:48)
8. Devourer (4:43)
9. Ghost Walker (6:59)

Reviewed by on August 19, 2008

"Although they are pegged as a blackened death metal band, the music of “Wounds” falls a lot closer to the black metal end of the spectrum with its constant blast beats and screeching and abrasive screams delivered at a very deliberate pace."

“Wounds,” the third full length album from California-based act The Funeral Pyre, sees several changes in the sound of the band, most notably the loss of a keyboardist and addition of a second guitar player for a more guitar-heavy sound. Although they are pegged as a blackened death metal band, the music of “Wounds” falls a lot closer to the black metal end of the spectrum with its constant blast beats and screeching and abrasive screams delivered at a very deliberate pace. While the melodic aspects of their guitar playing prevent them from taking the full on title of black metal, they definitely try to channel a more old school feel. This feeling is furthered by their album insert, which boasts disturbing art pieces dealing with themes of hell and religion that would be worthy of an Emperor album, and a cover piece that at first glance seems to have much in common with the hand drawn cassette inserts typical of the earliest days of the genre.

The dual guitar playing is what really sets “Wounds” apart from similar sounding albums. They stick to a melodic death metal style with frequent heavy distortion that prevents the songs from ever completely blending into each other, although the chaotic barrage of blasting drums and rasping growls do intermittently drown them out. The track “Gathering Bones” starts with a lone distorted guitar sighing out sadness and discontent, a veritable lament of existence, which is then accompanied by the second guitar playing an opposing melody. Although the ensuing blast beasts detract from the song somewhat, the melancholy melodies of the guitars continue to drag the listener down into desolate despair while the vocalist screams about watching men becoming nothing but bones and societies crumbling into oblivion.

The perpetual blast beats are the main problem on “Wounds.” There are a few instances where they are dropped in favor of more restrained drumming, such as on the first few minutes of the title track, but the majority of the album features ceaseless blasting that can make it hard to distinguish one song from another. The problem is unfortunately compounded by the vocals. While they are sufficiently guttural and intense for the music, they lack any deviation, always remaining at both the same tone and pace without exception in every song. Without the background guitar melody to add in some variation, the album would have become one long track.

The lyrics adequately match the dark and brooding nature of the album, musing about loss, darkness, and corruption. While brief snippets of rage and fury find their way into the lyrics, most of the songs stick to dreary statements of sorrow. Most of the lyrics work well, but there are a few instances when they cross the line from bleak to contemptibly pathetic, most notably on the title track when the lyrics descend into a whiny dirge about self mutilation being the only outlet for the unbearable pain of how disappointing life is.

While “Wounds” suffers from a limited dosage of monotony, it is an overall solid blackened death metal release worth checking out for fans of the style. The melodic guitar playing gives something to look forward to for the astute listener willing to stick around for the long haul and give the album more than one listen through.

Highs: Excellent guitar melodies and solos

Lows: Repetitive vocals and endless blast beats

Bottom line: Suffers from serious repitition, but still a decent blackened death metal release

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)