Tuesday, 21 March 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Pallbearer - "Heartless"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/03/2017
Label: Nuclear Blast |
Profound Lore

 

“Heartless” is an incredible achievement from Pallbearer, a set of huge songs that consolidate the best elements of their previous releases while moving into fresh sonic territory. This is the album that should see the band make the transition into stadium-bothering all-time greats, and deservedly so.

 
“Heartless” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). I Saw The End
2). Thorns
3). Lie Of Survival
4). Dancing In Madness
5). Cruel Road
6). Heartless
7). A Plea For Understanding

The Review:

Few bands have had quite same impact as Pallbearer over the last 5 years. New LP “Heartless” sees the Arkansas quartet poised to complete their journey from underground doom heroes to all-conquering titans of the genre.

“I Saw The End” begins proceedings in solid if understated fashion, hitting the sweet spot between heaviness and melody the band honed to perfection on last release “Foundation of Burden”. As the track progresses though, there are hints of the more complex journeys to come on this colossal record.

One minor complaint with “Foundation Of Burden” was that the development of their song writing skills came at the cost of the otherworldly funereal atmosphere that made their debut “Sorrow and Extinction” such a captivating bolt from the blue. Pallbearer don’t attempt to recreate their early sound on “Heartless” but by employing more spacious guitar effects and keyboards allied to the knotty compositions of “Foundation of Burden”, they create something very special and take  a crucial step forward in the evolution of their music. This is best demonstrated by “Lie Of Survival”, a spine-tingling doom crawl suffused with dark melancholy that somehow manages to be incredibly sad and crushingly heavy at the same time.

“Dancing In Madness” begins with a similar stirring intro, swathes of maudlin keyboards acting as a perfect backdrop for some mournful lead guitar. Over the course of its twelve minutes it covers everything that makes “Heartless” such a triumph and is particularly effective when it unexpectedly shifts into devastating Crowbar style sludge.

While the highlights of “Heartless” come from the gloomier epics, there are tracks here that see Pallbearer pursue a more traditional metal sound to great effect. Best of these moments is Cruel Road which sees the band at their most up-tempo and aggressive. Brett Campbell’s vocals are at their most classic metal here, channelling Rob Halford at his most commanding in places. It’s an uncharacteristic solid riff onslaught that builds to a brutal chug-heavy breakdown that has an air of Kylesa.   Although Pallbearer’s trademark melodic sound is intoxicating it is cool to hear them cut loose and demonstrate they are a powerful force when they focus on non-nonsense riffcraft. Similarly the band’s crisp, clinical tightness is another key ingredient of their success but it is awesome to hear them revel in the joys of feedback, allowing squalls to rip through bowel-scraping guitar crunches in the mid-section of the title track. This feels especially powerful following the hypnotic cloud of heady drone that envelops the songs first movement.

The record wraps up with “A Plea For Understanding”. This is the biggest departure for the band on “Heartless” and sees them dial back the volume for a yearning ballad that slowly unfolds over its 13 minute duration. It features another stellar vocal performance from Campbell, who begins at a tender almost spoken hush as it builds in intensity as the track reaches its climax.

“Heartless” is an incredible achievement from Pallbearer, a set of huge songs that consolidate the best elements of their previous releases while moving into fresh sonic territory. This is the album that should see the band make the transition into stadium-bothering all-time greats, and deservedly so. 

“Heartless” is available here (Europe) and here (USA and everywhere else)





Band info: official || facebook


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