Album Review: Funeral Chic- Roman Candle

4/5

On their third full-length, Roman Candle, Charlotte, NC Funeral Chic continue to bring their brand of blackened punk to our ears. Released on July 29 by Prosthetic Records and produced by guitarist Robert Stroud, it is a tasty return.

The quartet of vocalist Ryan Lockhart, guitarist Stroud, bassist Tim Nhu, and drummer Alex Psaroudis have been merging thrash with punk and the first wave of black metal on-and-off for about a decade. Roman Candle is their cleanest sounding record yet, but maintains their grit.

The first track is “Made in America,” featuring a punching riff with some brief pauses in their introduction. “Who decides what it means to be guilty, when people are starving?” demands Lockhart in his gruff voice. True to their punk attitude, they challenge themes of money, Jesus, and the combination of the two. Following that, “Spit and Crawl” starts with a drum fury and wah pedal guitar. Here Funeral Chic foray into crossover thrash and even channel High on Fire. Lockhart has a long guttural note before a sinister chuckle. The bridge riff, the breakdown riff, and the downward phrasing finish this song on a high note.

The titular track has a straight sludge metal riff, complete with some harmonizing guitars. The rhythm section on this track shines through, with booming echoes. “Roman Candle” is a somewhere in the crosshairs of hardcore and traditional metal. While it is a ripper, Lockhart’s vocals get distorted indiscernible during the guitar break.

“Satisfaction” has rapid guitar strumming, bass that is palpable and felt, well mixed drums, a fuckin’ stellar divebomb into the breakdown, and dissonant sax. There’s also a funeral bell tolling. It might be my favorite on the record. Directly following, “Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” has a badass riff that oozes attitude; straight Biohazard. “I’ve got an ax to grind, I ain’t goin’ nowhere,” bellows Lockhart. Stroud has two guitar solos in this track and both are fierce.

“Lose” kicks off with Tim’s bassline and Alex’s drums. This one feels Motorhead. “You know it’s true, somebody’s gotta lose,” reminds me of Lemmy, ‘born to lose.’ Continuing the traditional metal approach, this song has plenty of palm muting. “Built to Love” follows with a classic hardcore riff. “From the devil’s eyes and the devil’s front porch, I’m kicking in the devil’s door,” roars Ryan. The aggression this band conveys is hardened and measured. Stroud’s guitar solo is the smoothest and cleanest I’ve heard on this album, but I don’t think it fits best in this song. 

Even though this album is traditional metal and streetpunk, there’s also some blues inherent on Roman Candle. “Last Line Blues,” one of the singles teasing this record, features a riff of a singular repeated note and some bluesy guitar meandering. Lockhart feels as if he’s got nowhere to go; “I got locked out of Heaven/ Got burned out of Hell/ We built casinos, Citgos, and Jails.” The dissonant saxophone returns to lay down some impassioned cries, which is a welcomed touch. This album’s final track is a Roky Erickson cover of “Two Headed Dog.” Erickson formed Texas psychedelic band the 13th Floor Elevators in the mid 60s, and inspired ZZ Top guitarist and vocalist Billy Gibbons. Funeral Chic picked an interesting choice with this one; their guitar tone is buttery; their vocals add a new layer to Roky, and they can claim this as their own.

Prosthetic Records is really killing it this year. Some of my favorite releases from 2022 have been from this label- Undeath, Abhoria, Venom Prison, a highly anticipated Phobophillic and Psycroptic album coming out later this year. And now Funeral Chic with Roman Candle.

Buy Roman Candle here!

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