Pulling Teeth helped me conquer a fear of flying. On a hot summer's night in Baltimore, they shared a bill with Ceremony - right around the time Rohnert Park was released -, Magrudergrind as well as the highly underrated The Love Below and much missed Judas (Along with Triac and Hatewaves now that I think about it). I had pretty much worn out my copy of Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions and knew PT really didn't tour all that much at that point so I faced fears and bought a plane ticket.
The Baltimore experience was interesting and after barely surviving a taxi ride - not to mention wandering the city with zero GPS or knowledge of good block, bad block for a solid six plus hours - I found Charm City Art Space. The show was ridiculous in the best possible way. The Love Below threw condoms into the crowd, Judas' singer head butted a wall and bled, Triac and Magrudergrind killed it, Ross from Ceremony hung from the ceiling as the band wailed below. But to see Pulling Teeth, on their home turf was what really stood out. The passion and chaos that fills their entire discography were so evident live. And as minuscule as it sounds, the fact they took the time after the show to talk about their music and lyrics was really cool. Anyhow, I flew back to Buffalo the next day and went to work immediately after but that night really stood out.
Over the course of doing music reviews and write ups for the various guises of Total VVar as well as Halifax Collect and even an issue of Midnight Mass - issue #2 - Dom was always super friendly and inviting, even taking time away from the label and his family to do a lengthy interview which I still appreciate to this day. So as a fan of PT I was stoked to be able to do a review of their final record, Funerary. But I wasn't expecting it to hit me as hard as it did. From a personal standpoint, it was a heavy time so to hear a track like "At Peace" was comforting. Even to a jaded hardcore kid, the record had something for everyone. Riffs galore, collaborations with Mike Cheese & DC of Gehenna, Dwid, and Jeff Beckman to just name a few, fast parts and slowed down doomy sections... It's something that'll take multiple listens to fully digest and appreciate. It's still one of the reviews I'm most proud of - and if you go into Halifax Collect's archives you can still give it a read. Of course as an unabashed fan of the band, I wish they went on to put out more music but it would've been almost impossible to top Funerary. And it's a fitting epitaph.
As much as I love the chaotic no bullshit, fast paced tracks that dominated Vicious Skin and Martyr Immortal it was something like the slow, methodical crawl that filled Funerary's final half that blew me away. And that's not discrediting the first half at all. Filled with absolute rippers barely crossing the three minute mark, that title track makes you go "what the fuck?" Clocking in at over ten minutes it's a journey in the same vein as Gehenna's "Deathkamp Ov The Skull" where despite it being on the length get side there isn't a moment wasted or a section that feels out of place. And with as many guest appearances the track has it could have been an absolute mess and sounded disjointed but everything gels so well that even the transition from the solo laden previous track "Grudgeholder" is smooth.
There were so many moments during the course of Funerary where I didn't know what to expect next. PT throws everything but the kitchen sink at the listener over the course of eleven tracks yet those surprises bring me back to the times where I first sat down and heard "Bloodwolves" or "Paradise Illusions." Funerary was like taking everything that worked so well in their previous recordings and upping the intensity to an almost breaking point.
I miss Pulling Teeth, but the fact I can pull out one of their LPs and still get as excited and hyped as I was on a hot as shit day over five years ago is a feeling I can't really put into words. A thousand bands are disposable and say nothing of real importance, but Pulling Teeth left a clear mark and an untouchable discography in its wake.