Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore Records)

Arkansas doom metallers move towards the light on majestic second album

Released Aug 18th, 2014 via Profound Lore Records / By Erick Mertz
Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore Records) Formed in 2008, Pallbearer is a doom metal band from oft-overlooked Little Rock, Arkansas. The conundrum of what constitutes “doom” or even “metal” anymore is the same that follows Pallbearer. While their sound is filled with haunted, effected vocals and power chords, it lacks a certain otherness that has come to define the genre, whether that be the artsy swirl of Boris or the catatonic drone of Sunn O)))). In a genre not easily defined, definition is doubly hard.

The band’s debut record, Sorrow and Extinction was awarded Best New Music by Pitchfork and recognized by a myriad of other tastemakers. Viewed purely as a sophomore effort, Foundations of Burden is no doubt dynamo. The songs are mostly long, sprawling and heavy guitar focused.

The lead single, “The Ghost I Used To Be” opens with a few moments of real gravitas, a brief melodic introduction leading into an absolutely crushing guitar line that fills a hungry void. Even more nuanced are their songs like “Vanished” which opens up with a more dynamic brooding, echo tinted vocal, slowly ascending into a churning finish. By and large, Pallbearer construct a smart, well-rounded sound on every track on their new effort, including the swirling, keyboard interlude “Ashes” the shortest song, a welcome, mystifying outlier.

Oftentimes throughout Foundations of Burden the sound tempts (notice I said “tempts”) outpouring of arena rock emotion, the kind that may sap credibility from hard earned doom heraldry. The band is far too careful for that however deviation; their songs never spill over into that sappy, theatrical malaise. The songwriting is focused, hard driven and that temptation to grandiosity comes across as a round, cinematic depth by the time the end track completes. Perhaps this is their unique contribution, what makes them the welcome outsider: the fearlessness to drag a genre, comfortable in the dark, a little closer to the light.