PALLBEARER - Sorrow and Extinction CD
Profound Lore Records
Here is one of the many releases that I picked in December as being a extremely anticipated release for 2012. Of course my opinion was fueled by the great impression I got from listening to this Arkansas band's three song demo. That gem originally came out in 2010 but didn't go viral until last year when two influential Doom metal websites literally discovered it as well as heaped their praise. I quickly checked it out (since I respect those other site's opinions) and followed suit with my own review in April which basically called PALLBEARER a decent US act in the European doom tradition. It wasn't long before the rest of the metal blogesphere as well as the mainstream indie sites jumped on the bandwagon. Hey even a blind cat can catch a mouse once in a while but it was good to see a band from a place the media considers "fly-over country" get some good press. So by Fall of 2011 this band was buried in a ton of accolades all for a repertoire lasting roughly twenty three minutes in length.
So here we have their full length debut on the oh so prestigious Profound Lore Records and after a few listens I can say that my expectations for this band were met although I do have a few qualms with it. Starting with the 12-minute opener, "Foreigner", which meanders around for a few minutes with an acoustic guitar melody. I understand its being used to set a mournful tone but once the metallic portion rumbles forth we get it. Break out the handkerchiefs because doom and gloom is in full swing. "Foreigner" cruises along at a pace which would make a tortoise out to be a sprinter. Then there's the vocals by guitarist Brett Campbell who sounds like a teenage choir boy Ozzy. Last time around I suggested he was like Ozzy before all the coke and Sharon. Albeit SABBATH is always going to be an influential doom footnote for bands playing in the traditional style. PALLBEARER is no exception but their place is also in the seats next to classic MY DYING BRIDE and to some extent the present material by 40 WATT SUN who also had a great release in 2011.
I was not surprised to see that the band include two of the three tracks from their demo on here. Only their cover of "Gloomy Sunday" is missing. For those of you who missed out the first time around the band reprises their SABBATH ode "Devoid of Redemption" as well as the hypnotic "The Legend". These were the tracks that displayed PALLBEARER's knack for producing heart crushing epics that were not something expected from anyone here in the new world. Then again may I remind you that I spent six miserable months in Little Rock, Arkansas years ago. Therefore I know the undeniably hell they come from and yes it's influential to the point of producing such sad sounding metal. Just plunge your head into the simmering cauldron of melancholy from another new track, "Offering of Grief". Similar to the opener this newer cut is also submerged in crispy distortion and drags you along like being tied behind a snail. It's at the cut's midpoint where the crushing riffs subside and we're greeted with the combined salvo of a intricate soloing then an acoustic reprise. This only lasts mere moments when the song continues on it's soaring flight of sadness.
It's only the final track on Sorrow and Extinction, the gothic tinged "Given to the Grave", where the band breaks out into something new. The song is highlighted with atmospheric keyboards which gives off an air of European progressive funeral doom. It's an absolutely fantastic arrangement that quickly breaks from the subdued keyboard tones into a crunch of distorted guitar riffage plus clean guitar soloing. It's on here where we finally get into this band's Americana roots with an ending similar to any psych jam. Believe it or not Arkansas does have a hippie / new age contingent in their population. Aside from "Given to the Grave" there's nothing on this band's debut which will surprise anyone who has their demo. So for you then this is mandatory if you wanna get your hands on home grown talent playing by Euro doom's structures. As for me well yeah this is a damm good release even if half of it is reprise. Since I thought their demo was decent then this goes to perfection for now at least.