Foundations of Burden

I’m a sucker for album art.
If an album looks semi interesting in anyway shape or form, I will want it. The album doesn’t even have to be good, truthfully. I don’t have a standard or a preference or a guide by which I follow. I impulse buy and either reap the benefits of having a great album on my hand or….I have a really terrible album in my collection that somewhat looks neat with it’s art that happened to catch my eye. I’m hard pressed, though, to think of an album that so perfectly portrays what is sonically and lyrically represented more than Foundations of Burden. There is a marriage of forms that makes this album so much more than it could have been. I don’t know how intentional it was on Pallbearer’s part to create such a cohesive representation of who they are but they certainly defied most standard executions of album releases and solidified their place in the realm of heavy music.

I can’t, for all intents and purposes, outright call this a doom album. That would be a huge misrepresentation of what Pallbearer has achieved. There is a sense of hope that becomes more pronounced (if not musically then lyrically and vice versa) the further along the album progresses that betrays the standard definition of ‘doom’. There are flourishes of upbeat tempos that betrays any sense of lingering dread or sorrow or misfortune that is characteristic of doom. I’m not saying saying that there aren’t examples of the style on this album but one can’t listen to this and walk away saying, “This is a great doom album”. What they can say, though, is that “This is a great Pallbearer album”.

When I first truly listened to Foundations of Burden, I was impressed not only with the nuanced progression in sound but also with how well the album flows from track to track. There always seems to be a stigma with second albums and the levels of anticipation that come with the pending release but even more so for groups that made such a mark with freshman releases. Pallbearer earned well-deserved praise for their first album Sorrow and Extinction and I’d like to think that any fervor that existed for this album was correct. What I didn’t foresee was how well the music, the lyrics, and the art were presented as such a realized concept. I didn’t even realize it upon the first few listens. When I started to dissect what was being conveyed and actually heard with both my heart and my head, I came to the conclusion that Foundations of Burden stands out as an amazing album that not only shows progression in a very understated form but also solidifies this band as one of the more cerebral and exciting bands making music today.

The first aspect of growth that I noticed was in the overall sonic presentation. The vocals seemed to hit an altogether different timbre than the previous album. Not necessarily higher in pitch but fuller in sound. All encompassing if you will. Lead vocalist Brett Campbell has certainly found his comfort level when singing and his faith in vocalization really shines through. The guitars and rhythm section don’t just meander along to fulfill the riff quota either. There is a structure here that benefit the songs (and therefore the album as a whole) that wasn’t as prevalent in Sorrow and Extinction. I’m not saying that that there weren’t any good songs on Sorrow and Extinction but the overall structure seems more complete and realized this time around, with some hints of slight proggy elements. When a band can craft numerous songs that are memorable and engaging, that to me stands out above all other facets of creativity. With Foundations of Burden they have done that with six tracks that cohesively meld into one idea….one theme that seeps into every song.

I’m going to be blunt here. I enjoyed the album when I first heard it but I didn’t buy into the praise it received when it was first released. I listened to it nonchalantly because it didn’t seem as that much of a progression to me. The more I picked it apart though, I began to fully realize what I was hearing. I wasn’t just hearing it though….I was truly listening. What I found was an emotional, cohesive, and brilliant album that transcends most styles of music that it could be labeled in and establishes it as completely Pallbearer. Nothing else.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris S
November 3rd, 2014


  1. Commented by: Jason

    Nice review. This sounds good from what I’ve heard.

    I have to be honest, that I really didn’t care for the first album for quite sometime, but then one day it just hit me like a ton of bricks.

    Still haven’t bought this yet, but I will.

  2. Commented by: Luke_22

    As much as I adore Sorrow & Extinction, this album blew away my lofty expectations. This improved on nearly every element of the debut and it will be hard to beat for album of the year honors. I still very much consider them a doom band, however, their sound is all their own. Good review.

  3. Commented by: E. Thomas

    For some reason this isnt grabbing me like Sorrow and Extinction.

  4. Commented by: Jason

    I think I like Sorrow better too, Erik.

    But this is good. Gave a listen to all of the songs finally. There’s an odd Rush vibe to this one. It feels like an old progressive rock record, and a little less heavy. Still very good to my ears, but the first one is better for me in terms of general, kick you in the chest impact and downer riff songwriting.

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