Know Your Product
Pulling Teeth: Funerary
Published: June 8, 2011
Pulling Teeth is kinda the ultimate heavy-music crossover band. One minute you’re underwater head-banging to the almost Burning Witch-slow sludgey, doomy title track, and then several minutes later comes this weirdo anthemic pop-punk chorus/break on “Waiting.” The crossover isn’t between those two sounds—or, rather, that would be an extreme example in a record full of them. By now, Pulling Teeth is arguably Baltimore’s current most vital hardcore or at least hardcore-ish band—fronted by erstwhile Slumlords Domenic Romeo (guitar, also of A389 Records) and Mike Riley (vocals, also of Charm City Art Space), with guitarist Mitchell Roemer, bassist Chris Kuhns, and drummer Alex Henderson—but is also doing quite well at making “hardcore” as an aesthetic referent totally empty.
The album, the band’s third full-length, begins gently in uneasy, eerie guitar notes that buzz lightly before going whole-hog thrash on standout “From Birth,” in which you can just about feel the drips of spit from a combusting Riley’s mouth jump off the turntable. (Note that in fine A389 form, the LP’s artwork all but demands purchasing the vinyl version of the record, and also will make you want to burn every Hipstamatic album cover you see.) Indeed, Riley’s peculiar vocal stylings are one of the distinctive things about Pulling Teeth, like snotty scare-your-mother punk vocals that one could imagine being a take-or-leave proposition.
Pulling Teeth is wicked good at thrashy fast stuff, but has a firm enough hold on doom and sludge that when the record finds its chugging, downcast groove, it doesn’t have to leave anything behind and guitars still break off and shred like a dog sprinting off after a squirrel. Also note Funerary’s nongimmicky tendency to be pretty, if just for a moment. Like that opener; or a couple measures of bell-clear, sad guitar; or the sing-singing break of “Whispers”; or the closer, “August 29,” somber guitar dirge cutting to hardcore/metal combustion and back again, but ending in just a few bars of lullaby plucked acoustic guitar over a crying baby, a real-life recent addition to Romeo’s home.
Pulling Teeth releases Funerary June 18 at Charm City Art Space. For more information visit ccspace.org.
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