(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Sorrow And Extinction (2012), 6/10
Foundations Of Burden (2014), 5/10
Heartless (2017), 5/10

Arkansas' doom-metal quartet Pallbearer, led by guitarist Devin Holt and vocalist Brett Campbell, tried to revitalize a genre that was rapidly becoming a self-parody but the double-LP Sorrow And Extinction (20 Buck Spin, 2012) only yielded mixed results, with the stately Foreigner (12:23) a bit too derivative of Black Sabbath and the various attempts to mix folk and ambient elements a bit too amateurish. What certainly stood out was the melodic and emotional skills, something usually missing from the genre.

A cleaner, sharper and slicker sound on Foundations Of Burden (Profound Lore Records, 2014), featuring new drummer Mark Lierly, went for the mainstream. The poppy pomp Worlds Apart has more in common with the worst excesses of Rush than with the doom classics; and the second half of Watcher In The Dark is basically a slow-motion cover of your favorite pop-metal hit. The problem is that the result is neither doom nor pop nor anything of substance, as the tedious litany Foundations amply proves. To their credit, the way they develop and end the funereal march of Vanished (something that we have heard a thousand times) is original and moving.

After the EP Fear and Fury (2016), that contains a cover of Type O Negative's Love You to Death, the album Heartless (2017) further simplified their sound, and moved it away from doom-metal, towards pop-metal. I Saw the End is reminiscent of Rush's prog-metal without the technical skills and of Queensryche's melodic bombast. The grandiloquent Broadway aria of the eight-minute Lie of Survival The 12-minute Dancing in Madness begins with a slow, romantic, languid guitar melody worthy of latter-day Pink Floyd, and eight minutes into the song there is even a folkish solo of acoustic guitar, before the operatic ending. Some of the guitar solos sound more obnoxious than exciting, and could therefore be removed, the singing is rather bland, and the rhythm is pretty much always a stately midtempo. There are obvious limits to their formula, particularly evident in the clumsy and predictable title-track and in the slow, meandering 13-minute A Plea for Understanding with its quasi-soul refrain.

Forgotten Days (2020)

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