Pallbearer are back with their fourth offering of doom metal and a band going almost full circle. This new album is connected to their first long play album ‘Sorrow and Extinction’ as Rowland says: “This record has a lot of thematic ties to our first record.”
The band are reliving the early days and this is a Pallbearer that is back to being a full on doom metal band. Taking out some of the gothic and progressive elements that made their previous release’ ‘Heartless’ such an arena filling epic album. They haven’t stripped back and lost any of their magic though. Far from it, as this is an album of some of the finest doom metal and packed with epic tracks.
Opener ‘Forgotten Days’ demonstrates just that with the punchy guitar riff and aggressive feel to the track. It sets the scene for the album and announces the arrival of a new heavier Pallbearer who are still writing about life in all its dark reality. The track ‘Forgotten Days’ is inspired by the affects of Alzheimers, ” Once you lose your memory, what are you? That’s terrifying.”
“I wanted to capture the immediacy and what the songs feel like when they’re performed live,” says Campbell. “We didn’t want to mess too much with the initial spark. We didn’t want to colour over our inspirations too much.”
After the head kicking from the first track, the ext two tracks ‘Riverbed’ and ‘Stasis’ slow things down and features less aggression and more on the melodic side of their style. Stasis in particular has some intricate guitar lines with lung filling and hopeful singing over that crushing guitar sound that is their signature.
This signature sound is very much evident on ‘Vengeance and Ruination’. Another head kicker of a track the heaviness is mixed with some intricate guitar work. The drums knock down walls when needed but also the fills and subtle use of the full kit really save this song from being a metal dirge that drags itself out the speakers.
Next up is ‘Silver Wings’, which goes out all psych with some epic drumming and brings in some of the progressive elements from ‘Heartless’. The intro is huge and the soundscape it creates is brilliant and you aren’t ready for the the band to drop out and the bass to soothe the storm before the huge wall of guitar crashes. The song takes on a whole new dimension of doom metal full to the brim of emotion.
The three singles ‘Forgotten Days’, ‘Rite Of Passage’ and ‘The Quicksand Of Existing’ are some of the albums highlights. ‘Forgotten days’ is ferocious with an awesome guitar solo that flies out of the speaker.
‘Rite Of Passage’ with its driving drums that back up some wonderful guitar lead work, that intro for one, and sees Campbell surpasses himself on vocal duties. Sounding full of hope and echoed in the instrumental sections between verses and chorus. His vocals are on fire again for track ‘The Quicksand Of Existing’ too which takes best track of the album for me. Its like all the best bits of Pallbearer thrown into one song. Grooved up and heavy with a punk influence especially on the opening riff. But Campbell’s vocals just work so well with the pace of the track. It bounds along so well that i’ve often had it on repeat.
Check out the video for ‘Forgotten Days’, below
Last and final track ‘Caledonia’, has an intro that sounds like a patriotic calling with a hand on heart attitude that really grabs you. The grinding heaviness that soon smashes through shares the track with uplifting guitar work and a subdued vocal work about growing old. It ends the album on a calmer note after starting so ferocious with ‘Forgotten Days’ but that what has made this album such a pleasure to listen too.
As Campbell points out:
“Variety was important this time around, too. I look back on a lot of records from the ’70s. They had the hits, but they also had the epics, the weird songs—experimentation! Look at RUSH in the late ’70s. They had pop songs. Great, classic songs next to the grand epics. That made the albums interesting and adventurous.”
Which is exactly what Pallbearer have done. Helped by the bands impressive musicianship and the excellent production by Randall Dunn. Who has managed to keep the band sounding sonically huge and prevented them from sounding watered down or muddied up. A nod to Mark Lierly for some inspiring drum work that has me air drumming the whole way through.
The lyrics tackle the more onerous daily life of death and regret. Focusing on personal issues the band, as Rowland comments
“While we were writing ‘Forgotten Days’, I knew, ‘Now is the time to sit down and begin to understand who I have become.’ So, that’s what [my songs] are about. They’re about processing how time has made me what I am today ….. That’s a huge part of what this record is about, even as the memories drift away. I haven’t dealt with my issues in the healthiest of ways. Over the years, those memories aren’t as distinct as I’d like. So, there’s an element of regret about that, too.”
To sum it up simply, Pallbearer are producing some of the best sounding doom right now.
Check out the video for ‘Quicksand Of Existing’ below:
Pre order then album here
The album will be available in the following formats:
- CD jewel case
- Limited Edition 2LP Black Vinyl
- Limited Edition 2LP White Vinyl
- Limited Edition 2LP Violet Vinyl
- Limited Edition *UK Exclusive* 2LP Gold Vinyl