Little Rock band takes off

Anyone who has seen the September cover of “Decibel” knows the band Pallbearer is quickly gaining notoriety in the metal community.

What may not be common knowledge is the band formed in Little Rock, with two of the members once attending UCA. The band includes lead guitarist and vocalist Brett Campbell, guitarist Devin Holt, bass guitarist Joseph D. Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly.

The band’s second album, “Foundations of Burden,” was released Aug. 19. It immediately received an appropriately glowing Pitchfork review and is ranked an 88 by Metacritic.

While I say “metal fan,” the album’s most amazing aspect is that it’s not necessarily genre-exclusive. The music is so well written and performed that it takes doom metal to a new level relatable to a broader audience. It is doom metal at its core, but fused with melodic-vocals and guitar tracks heavily layered to create a deep-space feel reminiscent of Pink Floyd. For me, the chanting vocal harmonies at times reflect Ulver’s “Shadows of the Sun.” The many guitar-track layers have the progressive metal element of early Mastodon while still nodding to Black Sabbath.

The first track, “World’s Apart,” is bold and attention grabbing. It has the excitement of any story’s beginning while foreshadowing impending despair. The song incites a feeling of a wild, inter-dimensional journey while keeping you grounded with heavy bass and guitar tracks. There’s so much going on it’s almost overwhelming, but the variation of sounds and styles absorbs you.

My favorite song is the third track, “Watcher in the Dark.” I was in awe of the album’s narrative quality at this point because it brilliantly encompasses elements of a hero’s struggle.

The music begs the image of someone met with loss or pain, and of his or her anguish and mixed emotions. However, there is always a silver lining in any story, and the music creates a balance between melancholy and distant hope.

The end of the album wraps up these mixed emotions in a wonderful moment of closure. While listening, I was reminded of one of my favorite Acid Bath lyrics: “Slow desolation like a funeral procession.”

The only complaint I can fathom is the songs are so long that you sometimes feel worn down when listening to them. But just when you think it’s time to wrap it up, they unleash a new riff that drags you back. You have to know where you’re going next.

“Foundations of Burden” by Pallbearer is available for $8.99 on iTunes.

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