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Pallbearer : Sorrow and Extinction

Pallbearer here have caused quite the stir in the underpants of the underground with their sobering Warning-style epics. A good tip for retro doom completists despite the weak vocals.

Doom is all around us, and so the feeling goes! With Saint Vitus dropping a new bombshell this year and Disembowelment members back as Inverloch, is there space in your heart for newcomers? Well Pallbearer here have caused quite the stir in the underpants of the underground with their sobering Warning-style epics, and this debut has had a pretty big buildup.

There's the traditional five songs with traditionally chirpy titles and lengthy runtimes. The atmosphere is appropriately apocalyptic, great hulking icebergs of riffs crashing slowly under an icy sea of weeping guitar melodies and tortured vocals. The guitar sound is pretty great, with Devin Holt and Brett Campbell supplying both a lowing, throbbing rhythm and a keening lead. Not sure which is doing what but I gotta show some love to both of 'em given the warm and enveloping heaviness of riffs on such tracks as 'Devoid of Redemption'. The grating chugs have an almost sludgy feel and there's a bong-ripping solo, and were the vocals of a more rasping nature this would be an absolutely deadly track.

Which brings me on to a little niggle - I don't like the vocals. I've heard good things about Campbell's singing, but I'm just not feeling the slightly damp wailing in the background of these songs. I appreciate the nod to bands like Warning and, lately, 40 Watt Sun, and the idea of distant disembodied despair, but instrumentation this mean needs some proper bellowing or some harsh vocals to really bring it to life or death, or whatever. And they haven't grown on me so far, so I wouldn't be able to pick this over a Cough or a Kongh or a Wounded Kings.

But to complete the compliment sandwich I've written this review as, the drums are perfect for this sort of doom. Crunchy, crackling drum patterns that never suggest speed but vary in fullness and really add to the emotion of the disc, bursting into cymbal crashes as the guitar rhythms thrust through, or supplying abrupt snare fills to assist a crescendo. In terms of technical musical knowledge this is a pretty useless paragraph but the point is Chuck Schaaf does a very fine job giving these songs an appropriately armoured underbelly.

The vocals are a problem for me here but once the record has been on for a while I stop noticing them, and just enjoy the mournful slow-burn of the guitars and the spot-on drumming. Since there is a blossoming wealth of such underground doom bands at the moment, you needn't leap on this without first visiting such acts as The Wounded Kings and 40 Watt Sun, but for the bearded and bereaved with comprehensive collections of doom records, the excellent instrumentation of this record should provide a fitting further accompaniment to dimly lit rooms and trails of cigarette smoke.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Foreigner
2. Devoid of Redemption
3. The Legend
4. An Offering of Grief
5. Given to the Grave

Duration : Approx. 49 minutes

Visit the Pallbearer bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-04-22 by doom-metal.com
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