Funeral Horse Premiere “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh” from Divinity for the Wicked

Funeral Horse

One thing I like about Texan weirdo-garage-heavy-punk-doom trio  Funeral Horse is that if you were to go up to them and ask what is myrrh anyway, they’d probably tell you it’s a valuable balm, and then when you, in your best Terry Jones high-pitched exclamation shouted “A balm?!” they’d totally get the Life of Brian reference. I don’t know that for sure, not having done it myself — would be a long trip to Houston just for that — but it seems likelier than not given what we’ve learned about Funeral Horse‘s brand of deeply creative heavy rock shenanigans over the course of their two prior full-lengths, 2013’s Savage Audio Demon (review here) and 2014’s Sinister Rites of the Master (review here), that the gag may have come up once or twice while in the studio tracking “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh,” the closing track of their upcoming third album, Divinity for the Wicked, out on Sept. 15.

As with their last two outings, a prevailing lack of pretense rules the day on the new Artificial Head Records seven-tracker. Presented in a concise 37 minutes, Divinity for the Wicked expands the palette of guitarist/vocalist Paul Bearer, bassist Jason Andy Argonauts and drummer Chris Bassett, but keeps consistent in its atmosphere and deceptive lo-fi vibe, a rawness of presentation masking just how far the trip from the hooky opener “There Shall be Vultures” to the bagpipes that round out “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh” actually is. Along the way, a blown-out rocker like “Underneath all that Ever Was” surprises with an inclusion of Mellotron in its second half, and the tracklisting centerpiece/side A finale “Gods of Savages” makes a show of its near-metallic intensity funeral horse divinity for the wickedprior to delving into organ melodies and a rush of sludgy punk.

Side B only offers more confusion for the unsuspecting, as the ultra-stoner guitar line that begins “Yigael’s Wall” stops dead three times before the song actually kicks in to begin its eight-minute build, so quiet by the time it shifts into the cymbal wash of “Cities of the Red Night” that one barely knows where the track before stops and the next one starts, a desert-y guitar line emerging to call to mind Brant Bjork‘s minimalist moments and offer interlude companionship to the shorter, Eastern-inflected “A Bit of Weed” back on side A, however many miles the caravan may have covered since then. When it hits, “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh” sets itself to the almost impossible task of drawing the various sides of Divinity for the Wicked together, Funeral Horse moving between shuffle-infused punker chug and noise-rock shouts to an angular, chaotic roll that finishes by crashing into feedback.

And if you want a real sense of the consciousness behind all the weirdo push and pull that Divinity for the Wicked‘s stylistic breadth plays out, take particular note of how smoothly that feedback fades into the aforementioned bagpipes that bring the song and the album as a whole to its conclusion. Suddenly it’s blazingly apparent that none of this stuff has happened by mistake, and Funeral Horse are a long, long way away from simply screwing around either in their writing or in the studio. It’s bound to catch some listeners off guard, but that’s been the risk they’ve been willing to take since their debut that has made their work up to now (and through now) so appealing.

It’s my pleasure to host the stream of “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh,” which you’ll find below, followed by some background from Paul Bearer on the track. Enjoy:

Paul Bearer on “Gifts of Opium and Myrrh”

“The lyrics were drawn from a book I found on the prophecies and letters of Grigori Rasputin. In the book, he mentioned how his spirit had lived for eons as a great consult to the most powerful leaders throughout the ages. I found the concept interesting and started extracting parts of the book into the song. The bagpipes at the end of the song came about after hearing them during my grandfather’s funeral. I found them to be so mournful yet powerful and had made a mental note to one day use them as a closer for a song/album as a nod to my grandfather and his Scottish heritage.”

Divinity For The Wicked by Funeral Horse will be released on 15th September through Artificial Head Records.

Divinity for the Wicked preorder

Funeral Horse on Thee Facebooks

Artificial Head on Bandcamp

Artificial Head on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply