|Photo by: Amazon|
Key Tracks: “Foreigner,” “The Legend”
Let’s start this "review" out with a disclaimer: I know next to nothing about metal. I’m not lying. My knowledge of the genre comes entirely from my girlfriend’s brother who plays in a metal band. I’ve been to a few of his shows, and I have enjoyed them. But generally, this simply isn’t my area of expertise. So yes, technically this is a review. There is a rating attached to this record. But honestly, it’s more like a personal experiment on my own musical tastes.
Pallbearer is a doom metal group from Little Rock, Arkansas that just released its debut LP Sorrow and Extinction. The album contains five songs and has a running time of about 50 minutes, which I’ve been informed through my metal contact (the aforementioned brother of my girlfriend) that this isn’t terribly unusual for the genre. Nevertheless, this is a frightening new territory for me.
The album’s opening track “Foreigner” (clocking in at 12:22) starts off with a warning acoustic strum. While I’ve generally come to expect acoustic guitars to emit a homey feel, this one is dark and foreboding. When the electric guitars appear more than two minutes into the song, they’re monstrous and thematic, with a slow, steady riff that’s as thick as they come. When singer Brett Campbell finally appears at the four minute mark, he is zealous and sincere with a voice that recalls older English acts. Together, the song sets the stage for the epic nature of Sorrow and Extinction.
The guitars on “Devoid of Redemption” (8:18) make the ones on “Foreigner” sound they came from an early Beatles song. They’re sludgier, heavier and not as picturesque, which in no way implies that they are bad. Campbell’s voice echoes through the vast space the song occupies, and it’s easily the track that highlights his vocals the most. In other tracks, it falls by the wayside far too often. It’s a powerful tool that the band should utilize more.
“The Legend” (8:49) stands out above all the others. The fuzzy bass line that continues throughout the entire track is nothing short of sick. It’s slow, deliberate and massive, while not getting in your face. This seems to be the approach by the band as a whole. They’re methodical and heavy, but not in an overbearing way that will make your head explode.
Maybe I had some negative preconceptions of metal here, but I really enjoyed not being attacked by the music. The band creates these majestic and tragic moods that are surprisingly elegant. The problem, which I began noticing on “Offering of Grief” (8:33), was that the songs began feeling like huge jam sessions. Yes, a groundwork needs to be established in order to get the moodiness of each song, but eight minutes per song really starts to stretch the whole album thin, and soon enough the tracks run together in your head.
Pallbearer plays with your emotions in many ways, tugging you into a downward spiral of despair with its guitars. The songs, taken alone, are quite astounding pieces of work (at least to someone that usually sticks to indie music). The issue is that they become glued together, and it’s difficult to get from song to song without becoming bored. There’s nothing particularly new in track five that stands out from track one. From a technical aspect, the band has a lot to work with, but it needs, in my not-so-professional opinion, to tighten everything up.
My thanks to Pallbearer for unwillingly serving as the subject of my little experiment here. And also to the people who actually read what is perhaps the most ill-informed metal review of all time. You’re real troopers, and in my mind, true American heroes.
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