Pallbearer is a four piece band from Little Rock, Arkansas who’s 2012 debut studio album, Sorrow and Extinction brings that straight forward hard and heavy doom metal with just a tiny sprinkling of progressive rock. This band does a great job of bringing beauty to the gloomy atmospheres and the hit-like-a-freight-train guitar slams. Their sludgy riffs are layered into a thick wall of sound that remains well produced and sustains a quality of production that I find refreshing in a sub-genre that tends to get it’s rawness from poor recordings instead of technique and delivery.
While there are only 5 songs on “Sorrow and Extinction”, there is no shortage of sound. Each track is over 8 minutes long with one being almost 11 minutes and another crawling in at over 12 minutes. This album is not for the impatient or those looking for a quick fix of 3 minute hooks. Like most bands of the genre, it rewards those who immerse themselves in the sound and get carried away with the flow of the music.
- Foreigner, starts with a melancholy acoustic guitar part, lulling you with it’s lullaby for the dead. It reels you in with layered melodies, just crush you at around the two-and-a-half minute mark. The song drags you along for final clock-in of 12:21, but doesn’t loose me the entire ride. Though the song is called Foreigner, there is something about the distorted melodies and haunting vocals that makes me feel right at home.
- Devoid of Redemption, is a fairly traditional doom piece, with the layered sludge and haunting vocals I’ve grown to love continuing. This song tells the tall of a man full of a hopeless, frail old man, one “devoid of redemption” if you will, who walks through the shore into the crashing waves beyond. Whether this is literal or metaphorical, the lyrics match the vocals in a marriage of the truly somber, leaving you feeling as empty as the old man (in the best doom metal way possible, of course).
- The Legend, starts with some swelling guitar sounds before bringing about the song proper, which has some fairly, dare I say, catchy riffs in it. It starts as a single line, then is joined by an accenting second guitar. They play layered melodies while alternating with slow, locked together chugs for the remainder of the song. And surprise! More dark lyrics. This time about a man cursed to die by a man of death, or perhaps death itself.
- An Offering of Grief. Already to track four! Were getting close to the end (well, 19 mins from the end, really…) and this one hearkens back to that sprinkling of progressive rock I mentioned earlier. Maybe it’s just me, but I get almost psychedelic 70’s progressive rock feeling with this track in particular, albeit mixed with the trudging style you by now should be accustomed to. This song has a great ending that has to be experienced as words fail me.
- Given To The Grave. The last one. This one is almost 11 minutes long and goes back and forth between atmospheric and crushing. If the changes were closer together I would almost call it bipolar, but each time it steadily rocks for the right amount of time before abruptly changing. Like life you get both sides of the coin in almost equal measure This song is fairly balanced, and through that balance comes a sense of peace in the explosiveness. How fitting for the last track. The outro solo extends until it too allows you to be enveloped before it fades into ambiance and finally silence.
BOTTOM LINE: I love the vocals. I love the guitar tone. I love that there is some variety to the music if you relax and experience the sounds. A lot of people may draw comparisons to Black Sabbath, Trouble, or Warning, but that an easy cop-out and a vast oversimplification. These guys are doing themselves. They make you feel completely and utterly hopeless in their very own fashion. And I love them for it.
As always, RESPECT THE VEST!