Music

Pallbearer: Foundations of Burden

Little Rock's Pallbearer add some studio sheen with their sophomore release while maintaining the mudslide-like heaviness of their acclaimed debut.


Pallbearer

Foundations of Burden

Label: Profound Lore
US Release Date: 2014-08-19
UK Release Date: 2014-08-25
Amazon
iTunes

Due to its dynamics, metal bands are generally divided into two categories: those that hit you like a jackhammer, and those that hit like a steam roller. Little Rock, Arkansas' Pallbearer snugly fit into the latter category. Their heralded debut album Sorrow and Extinction was the 45-minute aural equivalent of a slow-moving lava flow.

Pallbearer has proven to a be a band that requires a patient ear. Case in point, with their latest album, Foundations of Burden, their total output of songs now finally cracks the double-digit mark at 11 (not counting "Gloomy Sunday" off their 2010 demo). Their live shows can only be described as crushing, courtesy of Devin Holt's guitar assault.

Foundations of Burden has the unenviable task of being the sophomore release of a tremendously well-received debut. Novice listeners are pretty much thrown into the deep end with the ten-minute opening track "Worlds Apart". Without a catchy riff or much in terms of show-off musical theatrics, "Worlds Apart" carefully unfurls itself. It's a logical extension Sorrow's lengthy jams, but with a noticeably clearer production. The crisper sound is partly credited to producer Billy Anderson, whose studio work has included Mr. Bungle, Swans, High on Fire, Impaled, and Sleep's stoner classic Dopesmoker.

While the sounds of both bands are vastly different, it's hard not to draw comparisons to Austin's ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead just because of the song title "Worlds Apart". That band's 2005 album (also titled Worlds Apart) also had to difficult task of being the follow-up to an album that critics considered to be a minor classic. And like ...Trail of Dead, Pallbearer's new studio sheen promises to lure in even more listeners at the risk of alienating a minority of original fans who were attracted to the low-fi fuzz of their previous album.

For all of Foundations of Burden's epicness, the three-minute "Ashes" stands out as a beautiful calm cleanser before the powerful, crescendoing closer "Vanished". Its soft melody almost veers into '70s stalwart Kansas territory. With its track length and prettiness, it could even pass as a radio single despite the marked contrast Pallbearer's lumbering epics.

If there are any faults on Foundations of Burden, it's that the middle portion of the album tends to succumb to a sameness sound, which is almost inevitable when you have two 10-minute plus tracks back to back. Fortunately, the demand for subsequent listens is hardly a laborious task, given Brett Campbell's stellar, sustained vocal delivery. Credit also needs to be given to bassist Joseph Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly for creating much of Burden's dark atmosphere. In a genre that routinely extols the virtues of speed, Lierly's careful, methodical drumming is a perfect example of the "less is more" approach for rhythm.

Foundations of Burden deviates just enough from Sorrow and Extension to give Pallbearer a wide array of venues to explore for their next album. As a sophomore album, it does everything it needs to do to keep Pallbearer's status as being elites in their genre. "Then souls set free amidst the gray / Lifted through the ashes," Campbell sings on "Ashes." With Foundations of Burden, Pallbearer escape the suffocating expectations of a high-pressure follow-up with their unrestrained power intact.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.

Music

Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

By the Book

Flight and Return: Kendra Atleework's Memoir, 'Miracle Country'

Although inconsistent as a memoir, Miracle Country is a breathtaking environmental history. Atleework is a shrewd observer and her writing is a gratifying contribution to the desert-literature genre.

Music

Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold Celebrate New Album With Performance Video (premiere)

Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) and Ingunn Ringvold share a 20-minute performance video that highlights their new album, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation. "This was an opportunity to perform the new songs and pretend in a way that we were still going on tour because we had been so looking forward to that."

Music

David Grubbs and Taku Unami Collaborate on the Downright Riveting 'Comet Meta'

Comet Meta is a brilliant record full of compositions and moments worthy of their own accord, but what's really enticing is that it's not only by David Grubbs but of him. It's perhaps the most emotive, dream-like, and accomplished piece of Grubbsian experimental post-rock.

Music

On Their 2003 Self-Titled Album, Buzzcocks Donned a Harder Sound and Wore it With Style and Taste

Buzzcocks, the band's fourth album since their return to touring in 1989, changed their sound but retained what made them great in the first place

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.

Music

Country's Jaime Wyatt Gets in Touch With Herself on 'Neon Cross'

Neon Cross is country artist Jaime Wyatt's way of getting in touch with all the emotions she's been going through. But more specifically, it's about accepting both the past and the present and moving on with pride.

Music

Counterbalance 17: Public Enemy - 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back'

Hip-hop makes its debut on the Big List with Public Enemy’s meaty, beaty manifesto, and all the jealous punks can’t stop the dunk. Counterbalance’s Klinger and Mendelsohn give it a listen.

Music

Sondre Lerche and the Art of Radical Sincerity

"It feels strange to say it", says Norwegian pop artist Sondre Lerche about his ninth studio album, "but this is the perfect time for Patience. I wanted this to be something meaningful in the middle of all that's going on."

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.