This Funeral Horse article was written by Matthew Amery, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Gavin Wells
‘Divinity for the Wicked’ is Texan three-piece, Funeral Horse’s third effort, following on from their 2014 album ‘Sinister Rites of the Master’. This album is a well put together, bluesy, riff laden Stoner Rock release. The Houston-based band have been gathering momentum since their debut in 2013 and with their latest album are sounding more together and more well-realised than at any point in the band’s lifespan to date.
Funeral Horse begin the album with ‘There Shall Be Vultures’. The song has a really strong Kyuss influence and one of the first things most listeners will notice is the strange vocal style of the band. The effects piled onto vocalist Paul Bearer’s voice lend it a strange Crystal Castles meets Red Fang feel and give it a more distinctive tone than you might expect from your standard Stoner Rock fare. Next up is ‘Underneath All That Ever Was’, a five minute track and a highlight from the album. Much gloomier than its predecessor, it is a great blend of bluesy, head-bobbing riffing and a slow, pounding sense of doom.
After the first two tracks we are treated to the first of two instrumental interludes ‘A Bit of Weed’. It’s the album’s shortest track at 1:40 but lends a new dimension with a Middle-Eastern influence clear throughout. It leads into the album’s fastest and arguably heaviest song, ‘Gods of Savages’, which starts out with the dreamy feel of the previous song, before turning into a Mastodon inspired, wall of guitar. The song starts strongly but struggles slightly to keep up the pace and punch of the first two minutes.
At this point Funeral Horse bring in their longest song ‘Yigael’s Wall’ standing at a respectable eight minutes. This is perhaps where their influences are most apparent, with the opening blues-inspired guitar passage being extremely reminiscent of a Black Sabbath song. This sound continues on into the vocals where much of the fuzz is removed from Bearer’s voice to reveal an Ozzy style twang. The vocals are sparse and well-done and there are plenty of solos to enjoy.
‘Cities of the Red Night’ is the second instrumental on the album and continues the feel of ‘A Bit of Weed’ with a dreamy, Middle-Eastern sounding song. It is longer than the previous instrumental, so naturally feels more spacious, using audible wind in the background and a great woodwind section. This sense of space is immediately broken by the album closer ‘Gifts of Opium and Myrrh’ and the chugging Stoner Rock guitars are back. This is perhaps the weakest song on an otherwise solid album, starting well but fading out as its eight minute run-time approaches the end. There are a few winding guitar sections which move finally into a lengthy bagpipe solo, which feels out of place as the lone Celtic influence in the album.
‘Divinity for the Wicked’ is a solid album with bags of potential and some good ideas, but feels slightly muddled and some songs overstay their welcome. The band could do with spreading the folksy vibe of their two instrumental tracks throughout the record instead of confining them to specific songs. A step up from their previous efforts and a sign of good things to come.
‘Divinity for the Wicked’ is out now via Artificial Head Records.