Pallbearer - Heartless

by Nathan Fidler Rating:8 Release Date:2017-03-24

Having formed in 2008, Pallbearer have steadily been racking up the acclaim with their doom-laden metal. While this is only their third album, they’re already on their fourth drummer - something which makes the critical acclaim all the more notable of an achievement.

Metal can often get a bad rep, with bands going out of their way to make their music inaccessible, but if you give Pallbearer a chance you’ll see what sets them apart.

Firstly, there is no tyrannical vocal track, Brett Campbell and Devin Holt create a hymnal wall with the melodies and the crashing guitars. That’s the beauty of this album, the fact that you can perceive the melody without losing any of the thundering music around it. They’re also not afraid to play to the slower tempo of tracks like ‘Dancing in Madness’.

At times it can feel like they’re striving for the kind of greatness Metallica (see the later stages of ‘I Saw The End’) have achieved, but in place of the anger there is a forlorn feeling. ‘Lie of Survival’ feels almost like a Brand New song, in the reverb riffage and before the avalanche of overlaid, chugging chords. This additional delicacy plays well with the rest of music, saving them from being reduced to a band with only one trick up their sleeve.

‘A Plea for Understanding’ undoes some of the good work, with a miscue on the vocals, searching too deeply and parting the curtains of doom which they’re so great at staying behind. With delay soaked lyrical efforts, it sounds like a shaky prog-rock experiment gone wrong.

As previously mentioned: drummer number four, but Mark Lierly has been with the band for a while now, laying down concrete-crushing drum rolls for most of the studio output. There is nothing fancy, nothing to take your eye off the overall composition of the song, but if you can pick out the rolls and tune into the room he gives over in songs like ‘Thorn’ you might better appreciate the role which percussion plays here.

It’s clear that their strengths lie in doom-metal, and they’ve certainly produced what will be one of the better metal albums of the year, their next step should be to transcend the single genre they’re pegged to even more, much like The Sword did in 2015.

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