Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pallbearer : "Foundations of Burden"

It's always a good thing when an album  I was scouring for on the inner webs all summer finally lives up to the exceptions and anticipation. After the first few listens I can say it's not as heavy as the first album, but no sophomore slump as they have grown in a sonic sense. The production is much improved, the density has given way to a lushness not heard often in metal.

The hardest riff on the opener "Worlds Apart" doesn't hit until the 7 minute mark. At times the vocals and vibe remind me of "Into the Mirror Black" era Sanctuary. They use a smart amount of restraint and hit you with the crushing blows as needed, but serving the songs first. "Foundations" the doom like weight comes down harder. They take more of pound to things, yet the vocals laze beautifully behind and mournfully create atmosphere. Singer Brett Campbell's voice has matured, his range now extended into lower passages though not quite baritone in their timbre. At eight minutes "Foundations" is the least sprawling of the album , the three minute "Ashes" serving as more of an interlude.

The first song that really strikes me as having a dark element is the aptly titled "Watcher in the Dark". There is an almost transcendent sense of hope so some of the other songs, that is different than what you expect from funeral doom. This album sees that band not adhering to that label or sub genre. It is more doomy than say the new Yob, but not in the same ball park as Mournful Congregation or Evoken. They do get mean three minutes into "Watcher.."and get rather gloomy in the final four minutes, but even there the atmosphere keeps it in shades of gray. They adhere to being doom without a prevalent Sabbath influence. The first solo that catches my ear is on this song as well. The solo turns into a major part of the song as they jam out on it for some time.

The pound of  "Ghost I Used To Be" is new melodic ground for the band. The atmosphere coat the chug when it comes and encompasses a new dynamic scope for the band , while oddly still retaining their trademark.In some ways it's a path not unlike the one Katatonia has taken, but far less geared toward any radio rock elements. The vocals do have classic 80's metal elements, not a full scale yodel, but somewhat like say Fates Warning's more reflective moments. At the four minute mark of "Ghost..." they take on a rock feel, as the riff catches a groove. The new drummer add much more nuance as well, which I think figures into some of the clever punches they weave into the riffs.

They still use the trick of breaking things down do the bare twang of clean guitar and building it back up.On some songs it is more gradual than others. "Ashes" is the more interlude like song that I mentioned before, it steps out of the confines of being metal altogether in a very tender moment, which may or may not fly with some metal heads. This is where the album starts to drift into post-rock and even shoe-gaze elements. Doom-gaze is what could be applied to certain section of the album, that would not sound out of place of  a Alcest album.

They end with the longest song " Vanished". this one returns to the lingering tempo of traditional doom , while flirting with this whole new doom-gaze thing they have going on. The vocals take on a eerie chant like quality. There is a very cool time change that is one of the albums' more metal moments at the six minute mark and when the vocals come back in Campbell really employs some of his most creative melodies yet. Some of the vocal hook are far more subtle than the melodies on "Sorrow and Extinction".

Like it's predecessor this is an album I can put on an just let play.It has fit my mood today and going into the fall, so I am not hesitating at all to give this one a 10.  I can see this one having some staying power with me and look forward to hearing how these songs transition live. If you are wondering where funeral doom could go next here's your answer.

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