Roman Candle by Funeral ChicRelease date: July 29, 2022
Label: Prosthetic Records
Do you know what powerviolence is? I didn’t, I had to look it up. Apparently Funeral Chic used to play it. They don’t any more. On Roman Candle they play rock ‘n’ roll. Thank fuck for that.
After two albums of playing around in a ridiculously mental sub genre of hardcore they have decided to go back to the source. It’s not Little Richard, but his ghost is visible if you squint and relax your ears. It’s rock ‘n’ roll like Motörhead played it, like the MC5 meant it. Pissed off and righteous. It’s metal, it’s punk, it’s all the good stuff slammed together in often surprising ways. It’s never boring, rarely predictable and is perfectly imperfect in every way.
Maybe there are some hardcore purists crying “Sell out!” Well let me tell you that the band Funeral Chic now most sound like is Tad, so yeah, they’re chasing that big dollar sound, the ultra-heavy grunge sound that made Tad Doyle a billionaire.
The real beauty of this album though is that it blends in so many strains of heavy music so successfully. It keeps you on your toes, every track has some sweet little twist, a sudden left turn or a nod to a musical hero, whilst remaining take-no-prisoners heavy.
Opening number ‘Made In America’ is a bit of a red herring in that it’s the only overtly political song on the album, elsewhere the band ditching the directly polemical for more personal strains of angst. It is a lurching, crunching riff, eventually straightening out into a brief bluesy finale, like the past of Corrosion of Conformity crashing into their present.
‘Roman Candle’ swaggers in on some beautiful twin harmony guitar work and sounds like Thin Lizzy jamming with Suicidal Tendencies. It’s a good tune, worthy of being the title song, but it’s not as good as ‘Satisfaction’ which is insanely good. It has an opening thrash riff that would sit happily on Darkness Descends and then is joined by a fucking saxophone (!!!), has a killer breakdown into more grungy, swinging hellraising, eerie synths, then more saxophone over a sort of post-apocalyptic gospel blues fade out. This is the song that defines the record, it’s all here folks…
That Tad comparison really kicks in on ‘Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere’. Vocalist Ryan Lockheart’s grizzly roar almost identical to Tad’s, the tune calls to mind their squealing piggy, lumberjack grunge meeting Exodus-style Bay Area thug-chuggery.
More grunge worship occurs on ‘Lose’ which is like L7 slowly being infiltrated by The Stooges as a dive bar collapses on top of them, the hammered one note piano all that’s left as the brick dust settles. ‘Built to Love’ is more Tad, here they’re doing the twist on Kurt Cobain’s grave, spilling Jack Daniel’s everywhere, eventually tripping over a shovel and knocking themselves out after swaying along to a heroic Slash-esque guitar solo.
Another standout is current single, ‘Last Line Blues’. It is indeed a blues, well, a slow, sludgy, nihilistic frug. There’s more killer saxophone too as Lockheart bellows “I ain’t asking for much, and I ain’t asking twice”. I want to mention how great a lot of the lyrics here are – a perfect match for the music, full of badass attitude and hungover desperation. “How many laws can I break in a day? As many as I want, as many as it takes” crows Lockheart on the thrashy ‘Born to Kill’, just one of a number of pithy, outlaw commandments.
Their version of Roky Erickson’s ‘Red Temple Prayer (Two Headed Dog)’, here just titled ‘Two Headed Dog’ fits in very nicely, crashing along on a thick wave weird vibes and strange behaviour to close out the album.
Do you know what rock ‘n’roll is? Funeral Chic do. Get some.