When bands like Trap Them and Nails started picking up some serious steam a few years ago, it felt like a true moment was captured. At that point, there hadn’t been a serious movement in heavy music for a while, at least not one that could match up to the ferocity of those bands, and see a brand of crusty, blackened hardcore being wrenched up from the depths to become as serious a force as it was really hit hard. It’s not something that’s really been replicated since though, but following on from their debut in 2016, Funeral Chic seem to be ready to pick up the slack with Superstition, and as a noted reluctance to praise their own music would imply, with a level of animosity coming through in droves.
And with that in mind, Superstition ends up exactly as expected, largely at the expense of the white-hot boundary-pushing that could’ve come from either of those aforementioned acts. For what it is – a comprehensive mix of studded crossover thrash, crust-punk, hardcore and even hints of groove-metal in places – there’s a lot to like, but whether it’ll prove to have the same longevity as its predecessors – be that with regards to reception or simply a place in the public consciousness – is a different matter entirely. And that does mean that it’s worth addressing what can only be described as a lack of sonic motion on Funeral Chic’s part, particularly when tracks fall below the two-minute mark for the grindcore issue of lacking any real meat to work alongside the blood-curdling noise. It’s all well and good that Jump and Stay Useless can condense their speed into such short periods of time, but when the only satisfying payoff comes when the pace drops for something a lot thicker and groove-driven, it can be hard to find much fulfillment in that.
It leaves Superstition as an album that’s a lot better when playing to more deliberate, openly meatier tones, especially when it can keep to that level of tighter condensation like on Say No. Of course, tracks like Left Alone and Red Laces feel even more satisfying in this regard when they decide to open things out a bit, with the former playing on classic thrash and death metal tones to predictably bracing results, and the latter going full-blown sludge-metal with low-slung, burning guitar work that makes for a clear highlight. The consistently gnarled production helps a lot here too, with a rawness and edge that only amplifies the heft all the more (even if the vocals can be a bit muddy at the best of times, though it’s not like that’s an issue exclusive to this album). When Superstition really hits its stride, Funeral Chic are capable of some truly thrilling moments that bring their grimy soundclash to arguably the peak of its powers.
It’s just a shame that’s not present through the whole album, and it leaves Superstition as a fairly messy listen where the peaks and troughs couldn’t be more blatant. There’s at least a strong core here, riding on the sounds of the ‘80s and ‘90s underground for something more stable, but deviating too much from that proves hit-or-miss, and Funeral Chic could do without that, at least until they define themselves in the role they clearly want to take up. Still, it’s worth a listen for anyone curious, especially if the wave of Trap Them and Nails left an itch that’s yet to be properly scratched. This most likely won’t do the whole job, but it’ll go some of the way there.
For fans of: Nails, Trap Them, Full Of Hell
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Superstition’ by Funeral Chic is out now on Prosthetic Records.