Album Review: Pallbearer – Mind Burns Alive

Dan Almasy

The Breakdown

Stripped back, raw, honest and phenomenal. Pallbearer return with another example of why they are one of the best bands in music today.

With a difficult birth, the album took five years in the making. The band started in 2020 but were delayed for obvious reasons. A second attempt in 2022 saw yet another roadblock with Campbell remarking, “After so much time, and two aborted attempts to record, it was beginning to feel like the album was cursed.” Finally, in 2023, everything came together and what felt like a creative process doomed to incompletion was transmuted into an opportunity to expound upon their original vision for the album.

‘Where The Light Fades’ creeps in with some heavy bass and a gentle glisten of guitar. This is a different Pallbearer. The album is stripped back. Gone are the huge sonic walls, and instead, we have honest and soul-baring music dominated by the mournful tenor of vocalist/guitarist Brett Campbel. “I’m of the belief that true heaviness comes from emotional weight, and sometimes sheer bludgeoning isn’t the right approach to getting a feeling across,”

Title track is a powerful mixture of sparse verses and booming choruses. The vocals are softly spoken “I’m of the belief that true heaviness comes from emotional weight, and sometimes sheer bludgeoning isn’t the right approach to getting a feeling across,” Cambell comments. However, the band back things up with some solid guitars on the chorus, and the band treats us to some familiar territory. Holt and Campbell are a perfect partnership in this regard.

The EP is packed with lengthy songs not that you notice while listening such is the ability of the band to capture your attention fully. ‘Signals’ is one of the shorter compositions but still 8 minutes long and has the band not rushing things but feeling that emotion with very chord and cymbal hit. Campbell’s vocals are drawn out over the melodic guitars. Even when the band take the distortion up a notch the track still sits as a breathing point of the album.

A highlight of the band’s songwriting is the creation of the track ‘Endless Place’. It features a modal saxophone solo by Norman Williamson that wouldn’t be out of place in a Pink Floyd track, over-punching guitars and manic vocals. Once the acoustic intro is over, the track ushers in a second half of the album, during which the band brings in more of the heavier aspects of their sound.

Mark Lierly steals the show with some exceptional drumming that pinpoints the emotive qualities of Holts’s guitar work. Cambell gives a desperate-sounding vocal performance, and the band goes about reminding us why they are one of the best in the doom genre. “It’s ironic given that the album is largely centred around isolation,” says Rowland, “but it felt like it summoned us into being back together again in one town after so long apart.”

Penned and sung in part by Rowland, ‘Daybreak’ adds a spot of peace in the chaos with feedback guitars adding a wave of emotion that matches the lyrics “On the day I break /Just sweep the pieces all away / And let them scatter / I don’t need an after.” Lierly does it again with a restrained drum track; he just knows what’s needed for each song. When the song needs more the band give it in the form of harsh hitting guitars that complement rather than override keeping the emotion going as holt rides the waves with a elegant guitar solo.

Final track ‘With Disease’ wraps things up in two parts, a slow creeping doom starts before a sparse gothic with Cambell taking on a spiritual form as things get early days Pallbearer heavy. The crashing cymbals and raging guitars clash bring the album to a fabulous close.

Here we have a mature, laid bare band demonstrating that they don’t have to hide behind huge walls of sound but can create magic with simple arrangements albeit lengthy tracks, this is till a Pallbearer album. Sure, they have kept the heavier elements, but it’s the delicate moments on this album where they really shine.

Check out the track Endless Place, below:

Find out more about more about the band via their Website or Facebook

Purchase the album here

Read our review of the bands last album ‘Forgotten Days’ here

Read our interview with the band here

PALLBEARER – Mind Burns Alive

1. Where The Light Fades
2. Mind Burns Alive
3. Signals
4. Endless Place
5. Daybreak
6. With Disease

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