Pulling Teeth - Martyr Immortal (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Pulling Teeth

Martyr Immortal (2007)


Amidst all the hype about Ceremony, Fucked Up, and pretty much any band in that vein, people seem to be passing over one of the truly great hardcore bands to come around in the past five years. While those two bands get the accolades, it's actually Maryland's Pulling Teeth that deserve them.

While their last effort, Vicious Skin is the one that put them on the map, it's their newest, Martyr Immortal, that will remind you exactly why.

This album has two speeds -- fast, and faster. It really is impressive how the band is able to keep up such a fevered pace while not sacrificing the stellar songwriting that fans of the band have come to know. Speed isn't the focus, it's just the means. And since it's the actual songwriting that was focused on first and foremost, it almost goes without saying in regards to Pulling Teeth that the product is near-perfect.

Every song is downright tenacious, packed with an attitude and swagger that amplifies everything to an extremely high degree. The snarl of vocalist Mike Riley gives an overwhelming anger and venom to each and every song, and that anger is matched and sometimes superceded by the calamitous efforts of his bandmates. Look no further than "Clipped Wings" for a raucous blast of tempo changes and punchy vocals that leads to a completely unexpected bit of clean riffing before slowing to an intense crawl. That's three dramatic but extremely fluid tempo changes in not even a minute and a half; Pulling Teeth is even more impressive when the duration of the song increases.

The album's title track sees the band go through a number of long, ominous instrumental passages before really unleashing the anger, only to go back and forth between the styles a few times more. It's a technique that encompasses everything the band is good at; be it an in-your-face blast of intensity or a mood-shifting instrumental passage, Pulling Teeth does everything at a 100% level of quality. The closer, "Dismissed in Time," only further exemplifies this point. The mix of strings, soundscapes and truly eerie guitar tones is unsettling at best, because knowing the band's penchant for exploding out of nowhere, it feels like there's a scream or riff around every corner. It's that expectation that makes the track all the more impactful.

The best favor that you could do yourself is to forget Ceremony, forget Fucked Up, forget Coke Bust or any other buzz band of the moment, because as long as Pulling Teeth continue to put out records, they are where everyone's attention should firmly be focused. Because just as their songs, at any moment, they could explode.