Dense in sound and emotion, powerful in intensity and shadows, and vast in depth and structure, the debut album from US doomsters Pallbearer announces their full step onto the metal ladder, and at an immediate heady height. “Sorrow And Extinction” is an impressive album richly veined with heavy hearted riffs, funereal grooves, and even darker impactful passion. In some ways it is a challenging listen, provocative in thought and listless making in length, but ultimately stirring and rewarding.
A three track demo in 2010 from the Little Rock, Arkansas band garnered them eager acclaim and inspired acute anticipation for this their debut with which the band have not disappointed those patiently waiting. “Sorrow And Extinction” powered by the band’s doom metal and original classic metal tendencies bristles with might and flourishes with a creatively melodic and atmospheric flowing immersed light sunk within its lake of gloom and desolate warmth. Each track is an epic oppressive vessel of titan proportions, fuelled by an instinctive swamp thick intent to consume and drown the senses in tenebrous atmospherics and monolithic riff filled murk. This is perfectly tempered with touching and soaring beauty via music and vocals that at times tinged with discord and splintered light mesmerise and captivate within the harsh gloom.
Musically Pallbearer offer obvious influences from the likes of Candlemass, Cathedral and Pentagram moulding them into their own muscular down turned imposing sound strongly pierced with the heavy might of a Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden and the emotive progressive grace of a Rush. The blend is thoughtful, well crafted and most of all impossible to avoid being swept up within. The opening track “Foreigner”, a song that feels like being immersed in a lake of sombre breath-taking intensity but with a focused warmth to head for, is an immediate announcement of the band and their sound. Whatever emotion exudes from within you as its weighty density infiltrates and encloses thoughts and feelings is a sure indication of what the album will leave you with, just by its end those emotions will be stronger and deeper.
The band is very impressive on songwriting, the bringing of their ideas together and the complete realisation of all elements within each tomb of a track. Within the vast lengths there is diversity and creative variety that is highly commendable though at times one needs to search with an extra focus to unveil all the band offers, but that makes each listen an experience with new doors and avenues to find. The two tracks “Devoid of Redemption” and “An Offering of Grief” stand out within what are five extremely potent songs. The first has a feistier muscle to its force and comes with a livelier and more aggressive declaration than on other tracks to emerge as the best song on the album. The guitars of Devin Holt and Brett Campbell pummel and stretch the ear’s flesh with riffs that devour and scorched melodies that sear the senses. Aided by the brutal basslines of Joseph D. Rowland and the forceful intimidating drumming of Chuck Schaaf the sound leaves one staggering and begging for more. Campbell’s vocals are equally impressive and he has a strong ability to soar and sweep with a smooth captivation as on “The Legend” or bring a meatier more assertive delivery as on “Devoid of Redemption”.
The other highlighted track “An Offering of Grief”, is an imaginative evocation of blacker emotions, its early muted shadows of sorrow and affliction evolving into a heavier damned mix of guitar intricacies and invention brought forth on invasive riffs. The song is possibly the release’s most imaginative track matched closely by the giant closer “Given to the Grave”.
“Sorrow And Extinction” is an excellent release that more importantly offers promise of even greater things ahead from the band. The album as a whole is at times an uneasy listen with its overall doom laden consumption so some may find removing tracks individually a more effective way to feel its quality though one does lose the overall immense wave of intensity. However one does listen just do it as Pallbearer has given doom metal an excellent creative shot in its morbid arm.