Pallbearer
Sorrow and Extinction

There’s a very fine line as a critic between liking something and disliking something. A production issue, a vocal issue, a song writing issue or any number of things that can sway an opinion between praise and disappointment. Case and point; 40 Watt Sun’s largely revered album, The Inside Room and Pallbearer‘s debut album. Both cathartic, emotional examples of doom with a classic tinge and clean croony vocals. However, where The Inside Room had no emotional effect on me and left me flat and unimpressed, Sorrow and Extinction is arguably one of the most moving and brilliant traditional doom records of this generation.

There are a couple of deciding factors at play here. One is a backbone culling from drummer Chuck Schaaf (the excellent Deadbird, ex- Rwake) and an innate Arkansas scene tone rooted in sludgier, heftier hues and this collides with the second element, a rending form of melancholic, layered doom metal that has a tangible nod to (early) Anathema’s and Paradise Lost‘s woeful tones. Even when adding Brett Campbell’s more classic doom singing (which was featured on a track on  last year’s superb Loss album, Despond, also on Profound Lore), which I’m typically not a fan of, it comes together perfectly. This mix of classic doom akin to Trouble and Candlemass, more modern earthy, gritty sludge  textures , some ’70s prog and a whole lot of ’90s Peaceville-ish misery results in a special, special album.

I’ve touched on the vocals a little already, but let me clarify: I’m very picky with clean vocals, especially in doom metal they can make or break a doom record for me. Just check my review of The 11th Hour. I can tolerate only a few classic crooners like Javier Galvez of Horn of the Rhino and Morris Ingram of England’s Solstice — both whose music Pallbearer often imbues. Brett Campbell’s voice has that same feel and delivery; classic enough to be considered old school, passionate and sorrowful, but restrained enough to where I can tolerate them, as they don’t disrupt the music too much. Then again, when the music is this good, Lady Gaga could be singing and I still might like it.

So, that’s enough about the vocals. The music here is full of dense, richly produced, weighty riffs and morose, layered solos and occasional acoustic moments that imbue the Deadbird sound as well as Samothrace. This is personified on the album’s longest cut, opener “Foreigner” that starts with a couple of minutes of utterly gorgeous acoustics, before waves of  thunderous classic doom wash over your already wilting psyche and I’m instantly recalling Solstice‘s New Dark Age — a classic in its own time. But that’s the appetizer. The rest of the four remaining lengthy tracks deliver music of equal but slightly more direct quality. “Devoid of Redemption” gets right to it with a mountainous, grooving but somber ’70s riff that results in the album’s most simple, hefty track. Then things get really good. First up, “The Legend” with an opening  morose bass line leading into a classic, cavernous but heart wrenching doom lope cemented by Campbell’s slightly more saddened, emotion fraught delivery. Then it’s on to personal favorite, the aptly named “An Offering of Grief” that features the most draining 8 minutes you’re likely to hear in 2012. Just absorb the riff about 2:45 in…so utterly crushing and the climax itself possibly renders the very personification of doom metal perfection with a riff solo combo that will punch you right in the soul — and leave you a quivering mess. 11-minute closer “Given to the Grave” has a tough act to follow, but its gorgeous opening choir/orchestration and more patient build akin to the opening track, help  deliver the ponderously epic goods, though ultimately I wish the orchestration had been used more in the rest of the album.

An Offering of Grief indeed and potentially a classic one at that. Another timeless doom release from Profound Lore Records. Horn of the Rhino ‘s Grengus had better bring it on like Weight of Coronation did if it wants to compete with this magnificent opus.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
February 15th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: demise

    6 out of 10 at best,nothing new here


  2. Commented by: Razorhog

    Erik, you’re a review-writing machine! I always enjoy your reviews and I will be picking up this title next week. Thanks.
    Your assessment of The Inside Room bewilders me, however. It had no emotional effect on you, but had such a profound effect on me that it literally drove me to tears. Music is wildly subjective, isn’t it? Thanks again.


  3. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Cheers for the nice words- hope you like it


  4. Commented by: Artvr

    I’m also not the usual classic doom listener, i’m very picky when it comes to this genre.. so far the only band i love was The Wounded Kings, because they got that extra crushing weight and also great vocals. But this new Pallbearer… man…. Brett’s voice… shit. I really dropped my jaw to the floor with their Demo. I have no doubts, “Sorrow and Extinction” in indeed a superb classic doom album. Good review but i have to disagree in one thing: ” Lady Gaga could be singing and I still might like it”, hahahaha… no way man, no fuckin’ way…


  5. Commented by: legumbrera

    Yes, this album is great, I’m loving it!!


  6. Commented by: Clauricaune

    Don’t know. “Foreigner” and “An Offering of Grief” do grab my attention, but the rest kind of just float in the background. Need to give it a few more listens.


  7. Commented by: elguerosinfe

    I like some of this album, but calling it a classic in the genre is going a bit too far.


  8. Commented by: drowningincorn

    I’ve been playing the hell out of this since reading the review. I’m not really not all that in the know when it comes to doom, as it doesn’t normally get me that excited, but this album has that intangible “it” that gets me listening where lots of other stuff would leave me cold.


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