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Pallbearer: Foundations Of Burden

Emotional Arkansans bring doom to a state of grace

It’s fair to say that the doom scene is thriving.

There has never been as much quality music as there is today, and as bifurcation continues and fresh subgenres spring up, so bands rush forward to occupy new niches, driving doom beyond its imagined limits. Crucially, however, its roots remain as strong as ever. What Black Sabbath started, neither time nor tide has erased, and old-school doom is in rude health. Enter Pallbearer, the Arkansas outfit who wowed fans and critics alike with their remarkable 2012 debut Sorrow And Extinction. Expansive and emotive, to label it merely doom is almost to do it a disservice. From the outside looking in, the possibility of topping it was never guaranteed, but lo and behold, that’s just what they’ve done.

One striking feature of Pallbearer’s music is how well structured it is. Imbued with an almighty sense of gothic grandeur, it nonetheless moves with graceful purpose. Although the band pack more into one song than lesser acts manage on an entire album, the dynamics are disciplined, the balance between light and shade artfully orchestrated. The contrasts between epic opener Worlds Apart and the sublime fragility of Ashes, for example, prove that they know when to change gear and move on. From doom’s sonic palette of greys, more greys and apocalyptic pitch black, the quartet conjure an amazing array of kaleidoscopic displays; immersive, atmospheric cathedrals of sound that recall the cimmerian canvasses of Evoken and Esoteric. The clincher, though, is that this is music that engages the emotions, massaging the listener into a mire of melancholy, reaching for the desolation that My Dying Bride and Anathema conjure when the stars are aligned.

It helps, of course, that Pallbearer are a great band. Brett Campbell’s Ozzy-esque voice is full of feeling, and his tasteful, intuitive guitar interplay with axeman Devin Holt is a wonder to behold (at least one of these guys likes Paradise Lost). The production, courtesy of the legendary Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis), is the icing on the cake – warm but not fuzzy, it brings out the best in both the writing and performances. A monumental achievement.

Via Profound Lore