Death and misery have long stalked Pallbearer’s output. Yet the past eight years have seen the band claw themselves out of the funereal pits of debut Sorrow And Extinction as they introduced stronger gothic, melodic and even prog elements into their repertoire. Sure, they haven’t exactly been sunshine and daisies since, but their gloom had transformed into something shared, almost triumphant. By the time the band released Heartless in 2017, their songwriting had reached anthemic peaks, albeit peaks they summarily flung themselves from.
Forgotten Days is a glorious headfirst plunge back into the darkest recesses of Pallbearer’s sound, taking the crushing abyssal tones of their debut and marrying it to their newfound ear for monolithic songs while stripping away some of the overt proggishness of Heartless in the process. In tackling themes of family, sadness and loss – both emotional and physical – the band achieve a sense of universal resonance, wailing into a void that then amplifies their anguish into a galvanising force. It’s hard to hear lines like ‘Time has changed and so have I / All these faces I don’t recognise’ from the title track and not resonate with a pain painted so vividly.
If Brett Campbell’s emotionally stratospheric vocal melodies don’t catch you, then the instrumental passages surely will. Beyond the Sabbathian marching rhythms and doleful guitar solos it’s the colossal choruses and keening guitars of Stasis and The Quicksand Of Existing that truly bring some arena-sized ambition to the table. Synth-heavy closer Caledonia serves an 80s goth curveball that shows there are still innovations yet to come and Randall Dunn’s stellar production ensures nothing is lost in bringing the behemoth to life. Forgotten Days captures a band not only at the top of their game but also genre. Pallbearer are building a legacy where misery doesn’t just love company – it’s compulsory.