PALLBEARER - Foundations of Burden - CD - Profound Lore Records - 2014
On Foundations of Burden, its second LP, Pallbearer strikes us as the
perfect combination between Agalloch, Yob and Earth.
The band's music is rooted in doom metal, but with post rock atmosphere
making the slow, murky sounds of the netherworld earthier and personal, rather
than casting you into the pits.
By incorporating haunting dynamics - typically in the form of guitar licks
and tempo shifts - as an undercurrent to its mammoth walls of guitars and
drums, as well as guitar solos that are kept fit and representative to the
overall music affair, a sense of movement is maintained, slow yet grand. These
are all a testament to the band's effective, sweeping songwriting, which is
true to the spirit of the original doom band, Black Sabbath.
Pallbearer, however, sweeps you not by melodic means, but rather by its
gushing and storming sonic waves and their collective notion. It is unlikely
you will be singing along to these songs which have no chorus or significant
hooks, but it is equally improbable you will not be moved upon listening.
The vocals are clean but remain somewhat distant, and yet that does not
suggest the vocal delivery is not good - vice versa! It is suit and purposeful,
serving to suggest insights and perceptions of human existence, obsessively
dealing with our past and consequently the evasive future ("Each moment
carves a piece away / of the sculpture shaped by the passing of days").
The vocals encapsulate an inner truth and seem to secretly carry it out to the
listener, and as it reaches its effect is devastating.
The buried notion of the voices is also suggestive of our fate, and at times
the production (by Billy Anderson, who produced albums by Agalloch,
Sleep, Neurosis and others) evokes a scene of a prayer in a chapel, in which
human voices are reduced to a collaborative hum in the awe-inspiring acoustics
of an house of god (and perhaps god itself, as a force of nature), which is
represented by Pallbearer coalescing sonic fronts. The clever utilization of
clean vocals here intensifies the songs' humane and emotive perspective without
compromising the luring, inherent despair.
Dirty, messy and mostly massive and reflective, Pallbearer offers no
catharsis here, leaving us with a depressing piece of music which is some of
the most emotional metal we've experienced. (9.25/10)
[Our Gut Feeling on this release is available here]
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