Psalms For The Mourning by Funeral HorseRelease date: June 16, 2018
Label: Artificial Head Records
According to their Bandcamp page, Funeral Horse like getting stoned and playing their music very fucking loud. Whilst this may win them easy fans on the stoner Tinder, it does hide the fact that underneath that old adage (and don’t we all want to do that), lies a band who have taken a remarkable step to something special on new album, Psalms For The Mourning. Less stoner, and more gravitas, they reach for the great outdoors, and in particular, that strand of humanity that seeps through all the great American rock bands, and hit a complete blinding run. It’s almost as if the door has opened on to the great wide open, expanding their music into a blissed out expanse.
Underneath it all is the blues, and here it is soaked deep in the Southern variety. The heat of Texas reigns strong, and is channelled into a progressive emphasis which may slow the music down, but by doing so, offers up space never seen before. It’s the moments when the music pauses that you feel the intensity of though. That moment before the next chord is struck, the anticipation that awaits. Funeral Horse may remain a stoner rock band at heart, but they now want to bust out of those confines for something much more meaningful.
It’s on moments when the guitars start building on ‘Emperor of All Maladies’ that you first note a band who are taking things at their own pace. A progressive rock epic, its blues base keeps its grounded within stoner rock territory, but we find ourselves reaching out from those dank dungeons to the openness that a band such as Arbouretum do so well. It’s classic rock, but all the better for it.
To label it so simply probably doesn’t do justice to the album really. The acoustics of ‘1965’ may bring to mind early Sabbath, but when the piano drops in you forget those stoner roots and hear something much more classical. It’s these little moments, again on opening track ‘Better Half of Nothing’, which features an out of the blue horn piece, that make this album such an emotional charged listen. Beauty in chaos, although this time the chaos is kept on a steady reign, only really left loose on ‘Sacrifice Of A Thousand Ships’, which burns like a strip of magnesium, upsetting the finely tuned balance of the album.
There are a couple of moments when you feel that the earnestness is going to send them over the edge, such as on the beginning of ‘Divinity Of The Wicked’. These moments soon dissolve into a haze when all of a sudden they shift tack with the music. It’s a neat trick but you get the feeling that maybe too much of this might result in fatigue or failure further on. It almost falls apart on the aforementioned song, until a wayward synth turns the song into a gloriously balmy paean. You cant help but appreciate the audacity of it all. Who ever said the blues couldn’t be interesting?
You get the feeling that Funeral Horse may be one of the few that break through, and this album certainly has all the hallmarks that they might. There is an inviting openness to their music, and whilst it is still heavy, they have tones it down with their progressive tendencies. By pushing the boundaries of a stoner rock band, they find themselves occupying a place where very few go. Psalms For The Mourning may well mark a turning point for this band, and deservedly so. Now, go get stoned and play this album very loud. Just like it was intended.