Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction

Pallbearer are an American doom group who formed in 2008. This is their full-length debut, which came out just last month.

These guys fit quite snugly in that slow, fuzzy, heavy, groove-oriented end of the doom spectrum which is occupied by stoner doom groups like Electric Wizard and Sleep. The riffs are almost painfully slow, the variety that keeps you hanging on in that second of anticipation before the concluding bass note drops at the end of the riff. With 5 tracks, and not a single one under 8 minutes long, the song lengths reflect that trait pretty accurately. Like other stoner doom groups, the level of distortion on the bass is so high that it creates a wall of fuzz that the guitar works within and sculpts into the shape of songs, rather than simply blazing away over top of it. It's the type of distortion that allows feedback to function like an instrument. True to the form of this musical approach, the drums lay back, just keeping a beat and throwing in occasional accents, but never stepping to the forefront. The deep groove of the riff is master here. This really does remind me a great deal of Electric Wizard circa Come My Fanatics... when they were still just a trio. This falls short of the Wizard in terms of pure, crushing heaviness, but to be fair what doesn't?

That's not to say that this is a copy, though. There are places where everything else fades away and the song will drift into soft, quiet, lonely guitar passages. In other places, some ambient feedback will moan in the background while an gentle, undistorted guitar piece will occupy center stage. Those quieter portions of the songs, in particular I'm thinking about the last 2 tracks, are very effective and add a definite feeling of sorrow to the overall sound of the album.

The vocals are not terribly strong on this album. In some places they work better than in others, but overall the singer's voice sounds a little weak and thin. I noticed as I listened through this that I liked the singing toward the end of the album the best, so it may be that he grew on me as the experience progressed. The same is basically true of the album in general, though, as the everything started off painfully slow and I felt like it improved as it progressed.

Grade: A-
A very good stoner/doom debut, excellent for fans of Sleep or Electric Wizard. I was on the fence as to whether this should get an A- or a B+ grade, but since I have a strong feeling that this one is going to grow on me I went ahead and gave it the higher of the two.


  1. Nice. The comparison to EW is not the first thing I would have thought of with this band. The sound is similar, though, even if the personality isn't.

  2. I've heard very different comparisons, but that's the one that came to my mind, so I figured it was the best one to share since it was my review.

  3. I have heard good things about this band, so I am interested in hearing it.