Now here’s the highlight of the week: Little Rock, Arkansas doom metallers Pallbearer slotted to disintegrate Barboza Thursday night with help from Sólstafir and Mortals (Note: advance tickets appear to be sold out).
Pallbearer is coming off the summer release of their followup to the much-hailed 2012 debut Sorrow and Extinction. Their five songs of intense grief caught the attention of the world of underground metal, and numerous publications ranked it as one of 2012’s best records. With such a strong opening, it was natural to wonder how Pallbearer would avoid the sophomore slump with their next showing.
But the answer was, apparently, “with distinction.”
Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore Records) matches and surpasses the first album, and with it quite a lot of people’s hopes. While Sorrow and Extinction offered aching, unrelenting mournfulness (not exactly unusual for something called doom metal, but expertly done), Foundations is faster and richer, running at the speed of life rather than the speed of grief (to riff on the words of the band members themselves in this rather good interview for Noisey). Of course, the pain and darkness is still there, but it’s strewn with more life and warmth, thanks in part to the sonic expertise of audio “engine-ear” Billy Anderson, acting as consigliere to the band during their recording at Type Foundry Studios in Portland; no other producer was more suited to the task of helping Pallbearer take the steps the wanted, or didn’t know they wanted, following the success of Sorrow.
Less singular and insular than their debut, which had Brett Campbell’s clean vocals somewhat enveloped in the record’s torpid meditations on mortality, Foundations grows a more dynamic, expansive doom world to inhabit, one where Campbell can wrest himself from the grip of loss that would see him prostrate, able to stand and move about like the figure on the album art – vulnerable in his nakedness, but stalwart.
Though my own EOTY list is unfinished, Foundations of Burden is somewhere near the top.
The supporting acts had their own releases this year, with Sólstafir’s Ótta out in September and Mortals’ Cursed to See the Future in July.
Ótta (Season of Mist) is Icelandic post-metal – very Icelandic. Though building to some heavy crescendos that pay tribute to their roots in Iceland’s black metal landscape, the record often seems closer to the softness of Sigur Rós, with piano, banjo and strings accompanying Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s sweet and melancholy voice.
Cursed to See the Future (Relapse Records) from Mortals is a bit different: no sweetness here in the Brooklyn trio’s punishing blackened sludge metal, just a grim and grimy determination to mess you up. Lesley Wolf’s abrasive black metal vocals hack and slash, while her bass work and Caryn Havlik’s drumming never stop the bludgeoning as Elizabeth Cline busts out riff after riff with disdainful ease.
So, hope they have tickets at the door or you can find someone selling theirs. It’d be nice to see you in there while all this majesty is going on.
Other shows of note: Author & Punisher, Crypts, The Family Curse and Lightning Kills Eagle tonight at the Highline Bar
QUI, Shadow House, Faux Sangue (members of Same-Sex Dictator and Monogamy Party) and Charlatan Thursday night at the Black Lodge
Geoff Vincent / Say Sluggish Sludge Five Times Fast / KXSU Heavy Music Director
(damn I gotta grab a poster)