Funeral Horse is a band that, up until a couple of weeks ago, I had never heard of before. They are a stoner punk doom metal band from Houston,Texas who formed last year and released their debut EP “Savage Audio Dream.” The band consists of Paul Bearer (vocals, guitar), Chris Lamour (drums) and Jason Argonaut (bass). So when I decided to play the band’s new album, “Sinister Rites of the Master,” I crossed my fingers and wished Funeral Horse all the luck in the world. So what did my ears experience? Well…..
The first song, ‘Until the Last Nation Falls,’ starts with a slow atmospheric doom opening, until heavy mid-tempo punk driven riffs kick in, which had my head banging throughout the rest of the song. I also loved Bearer‘s bluesy inspired solo and the sound of Lamour‘s cymbals crashing in the background. Great opening track. The second track, ‘Amputate the Hands of Thieves,’ ratchets the rhythm up a notch with hardcore punk fuzzed out guitars, until the last 90 seconds where the tempo goes sludgy, with the bass drum kicking me right between the eyes. ‘Communist’s Blues’ is distorted vocals, dark blues riffs and an emotional solo from an instrument that I have enjoyed listening to since I first discovered Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, the harmonica. There is one thing that irritated me throughout the song, an annoying voice that’s in the background on a loop, which if someone can interpret what the hell this voice is saying, please tell me because it’s driving me crazy.
‘Executioner of Kings’ starts and ends with Lamour‘s thunderous tribal drums, but in between there is a truckload of killer riffs to rock out to. Even though it is only 90 seconds long,’I Hear the Devil Calling Me’ surprised me with comforting acoustic strumming guitars, soulful harmonica and the haunting vocals of Sarah Hirch, also of Houston. ‘Stoned and Furious’ is full of piss and vinegar with fast paced, eardrum menacing riffs, a scorching guitar solo and Argonaut‘s equally punishing deep bass line. Last but not least is Funeral Horse‘s slower and shorter interpretation of Rush‘s ‘Working Man.’ Paul Bearer‘s fuzzy vocals sound nothing like Geddy Lee, but he puts his nose to the grindstone and drives that classic opening Rush riff throughout a version of the song that should make Alex Lifeson feel honored. Once again I have to point out my joy in experiencing the deep rooted bass groove that is firmly planted in the track. It is especially highlighted during the solo.
‘Sinister Rites of the Master’ is only 27 minutes long, but it neatly showcases Funeral Horse‘s skills in punk, doom and blues, with enormous riffs, mighty drum beats, marvelous bass lines and soulful harmonica. In the end, I am happy I discovered Funeral Horse, and confirmed in my belief that discovering a new band is, for the most part, a good thing.