They may be from Little Rock, but Pallbearer’s third album, ‘Heartless’, is big in every respect – seriously lengthy songs, fat meaty riffs and smoking solos – there ain’t nothin’ little here. They’ve been pigeonholed as doom and, although there’s a fair bit of desolation on display, there’s a strong progressive side to their music reaching way beyond the standard grind.
‘I Saw The End’ sets a highly listenable pace, albeit without the doom bell really tolling. Though there are epic guitar lines, chugging riffs and an emotional edge to Brett Campbell’s vocal. The comparatively short 5 minutes plus of ‘Thorns’ then broods more ominously, offering up more fine guitar work and an atmospheric mid-section to add to the drama.
Things take a turn for the lohg from then on, but this is a band who like to take their time and it’s a niché worth exploring, especially when done as well as it is here. ‘Dancing in Madness’, for example, is over 11 minutes, but boasts killer guitar licks and shifts easily from atmospheric to doom-laden, taking several twists and turns and layering multiple textures to evoke a real sense of desolation.
‘Lie of Survival’ and the title track also feature a heavy dose of emotion as they move through a host of rhythms, but then on ‘Cruel Road’ they really rock – there’s even a hint of a hook – before it all twists into a dark finale. It really only begins to test the patience on the enormous closing track ‘A Plea for Understanding’, which at almost thirteen minutes of pedestrian paced wanderings proves a bridge too far, and lacks the more interesting arrangement of earlier numbers. Even so, it does feature more excellent vocals as Brett tests his range.
Although this is unlikely to be everyone’s bag, there’s plenty of talent on display, with more than enough for doom lovers and prog lovers alike to get their ears around; well worth checking out.
‘Heartless’ by Pallbearer is released on 24th March on Nuclear Blast Records (UK/EU) / Profound Lore (North America).
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)