Of the many doom/stoner metal acts that are rising to prominence, one of the shining lights is Pallbearer from Arkansas, who have just dropped their newest release, Heartless.
Admittedly, you look at the name and think it’s going to be some grim and dark stuff. For the most part, there is plenty of that on offer without any doubt. A barrage of grimy and sludgy crashing guitar riffage flows throughout, a meat and potatoes rhythm section keeps it all glued together in tracks like ‘Thorns’ and ‘Cruel Road’, that sounds like Remissionin-era Mastodon jamming with Blue Öyster Cult, and the epic album closer ‘A Plea For Understanding’ that manifests from dark to light and all in between.
However, through the doom and gloom there is an underlying light primarily in Brett Campbell and Devin Holt’s weaving guitar lines in ‘Lie of Survival’, a mini prog like opus ‘Dancing in Madness’, and the title track ‘Heartless’ that adds a delicate touch and counterpoints with Campbell’s haunting yet expressive vocal approach that sounds like an amalgamation of The Church’s Steve Kilbey and Sabbath-era Ozzy. That description may make it seem strange, but it works. All of this would not be possible without legendary producer Billy Anderson’s production that is both sonically crushing and melodically pleasing to the ear.
With Heartless, Pallbearer have taken a step outside the realms of the underground without compromising any elements of their core sound or any of their integrity, but approached and entered a musical realm (that has been kicked open by bands such as Mastodon and Ghost) that could possibly bring them into a lot of new eyes and ears. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s worth a listen none the less.
Despite the doom and gloom, the future is bright with Pallbearer.
1. I Saw the End
3. Lie of Survival
4. Dancing in Madness
5. Cruel Road
7. A Plea for Understanding