Pallbearer – “Forgotten Days” (Nuclear Blast)
Battle Helm Rating
Tenderly fusing the bludgeoning doom of Crowbar with the melodic bliss of funeral doom melancholia, Pallbearer go well beyond the (justifiable) grimness of their name into a band not easily forgotten, especially in the heart. Formed in Little Rock, AR in 2008, the band, whose founders Brett Campbell (lead vocals, guitar) and Joseph D. Rowland (bass, synth, vocals) are graduates of the University of Central Arkansas, won immediate critical acclaim following the release their debut “Sorrow and Extinction”. With more accolades and awards for their sophomore, “Foundations Of Burden”, it was their 3rd release “Heartless” that saw Pallbearer break it big, although with irony in widening their scope from their doom roots to embrace grunge, classic rock and even prog influences. “Forgotten Days” takes a step back from that technicality and shifts the pace back down to the levels on “Sorrow and Extinction”, which is also connected thematically as it was written when Rowland’s mother was terminally ill, so over a decade on, this 4th album reflects those memories over the passage of time. In getting back to the groovier and heavier elements on “Forgotten Days”, the 8 songs show Pallbearer’s intent to reconnect live once again to their audiences, with the opening title track ‘Forgotten Days’ doing exactly that in hammering you right from the get-go through its syrup thick doom riffing driven by massive droning guitars and Campbell’s trademark Ozzy-esque wailing but offset so brilliantly in its tenderer moments by calming, heartfelt melodic melancholia. Indeed, on the brilliant ‘Stasis’, the dense guitar brutality in the background only serves to embolden the prominent melancholia immediately resonating in one’s soul, yet with a strong emotional release through Campbell’s soothing tones fleshed out by Rowland’s trippy keyboard sounds. Bringing it to a heart-breaking culmination, ‘Rite Of Passage’ sees the melancholia and morass of doom embrace through the superb entwinement of Campbell’s sorrowful guitar and Rowland’s deep bass, while the vocals and harmonies express soul and passion ceaselessly throughout. Pallbearer have returned, mournful as they ever were, although still with plenty of love and a newfound strength in their music.