Chicago Death Metal supergroup THESE ARE THEY return with their third album At the Feast of Seven Funerals out now via The End Records. In addition to the core writing team of vocalist Paul Kuhr (NOVEMBERS DOOM), guitarist Steve Nicholson (formerly of NOVEMBERS DOOM) and guitarist Justin Jurgevich (formerly of HURTLOCKER), the band now includes bassist Mike Flaherty (formerly of LOUDMOUTH) and drummer Tony Bettenhausen (formerly of HURTLOCKER). Whew…got all that? OK. So, now that you know who does what on this record let’s get into it some. I’ve had it about a week now and was a fan from the very first listen.
Immediate standouts were “Sixth Shot for the Mortician” (probably my favorite) with its searing riff that just rips through you, “Steeple of Blood” which has blast beats galore and a Black Metal vibe, and “Feast of Seven Funerals.” Bettenhausen really knows how to hold shit down and it really shines through on this track. Kuhr’s vocals on this and every song are all growls all the time and I fucking love it! As far as the concept and storyline it all comes from Nicholson and it takes place in the Old West of the 1800’s. There’s a gunslinger named Lucius and his lady Penelope, and that’s all I’m prepared to tell you guys. Get the album and dig into the lyrics like we used to! Opener “Hell Rides At Dawn” is an absolute rager from start to finish, 6:23 of metal fucking metal so believe me I was sold.
This takes us right into “Palace of Sin” and you can really hear Flaherty’s bass glued to the drum patterns. Dan Swanö’s mixing on this record is off the charts, but does that come as a surprise to anyone? “Gospel of a Bullet” has arguably the sickest, most sinister guitar sound on the disc. It’s an evil song with a dark-sounding groove, and when the axemen solo it’s brief, but still awesome. “Hangman’s Knot” is yet another winner with more crunchy riffs and shredding solos that’s been on REPEAT quite a bit. Closer “Buried Neath the Willows” has such a classic Death Metal feel to it mixed with modern sounds that you’ll find yourself wondering what year it is as you listen to it, I swear. For “Penelope Dies” the band once again goes for a bit of a Black Metal tone while still retaining the Death feel and bringing the hammer down upon you.
All in all, this is a fantastic record from start to finish. There isn’t one single track that’s a clunker, and not once will you find yourself growing bored. Paul Kuhr and Co. have found gold in them thar Death Metal hills. I can only hope that a tour is a-comin’ because I’ll be first in line. Thanks, THESE ARE THEY for making my year end Top Albums list even harder now!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Gospel of a Bullet”, “Sixth Shot For the Mortician”, “Hangman’s Knot”, “Steeple of Blood”, “Feast of Seven Funerals”