Praised as their best work, this sophomore record from the Arkansas Doom Metal outfit Pallbearer has all the measured, weighty wonder of its successor yet strips back most of its prettier, gleaming guitar tones and melodic, Progressive Rock influences. I am talking in reverse however, this record that came before it has scale and craft protruding from its dense and meaty lunge of crunchy, fuzzy guitars accommodated by slow burgeoning drums. They form a stunning atmospheric setting, its mood caught between natural beauty and mortal sorrow.
Foundations Of Burden feels closer to the formula of sluggish, punishing paces and dreary, gloomy atmospheres associated with Doom Metal. Some sections reveal their simple construct with minimal guitar work between the strikes of bass kicks and lonely hi-hats but despite this the tempo shifts and guitar work can erode all sense of structure and repetition that is commonplace as a web of expression unravels itself beyond all tropes. In these moments it feels like the music escapes its own limitations, the layering of guitar leads and stunning vocals has the music blossoming into vivid, indulgent places.
Some of its riffs are aggressive and grooving on paper but the warm fuzzy distortion tone and lack of urgency in performances spins so much of what is "Metal" into feeling like the distortion is almost irrelevant to what it creates. The heart of the music is in the melody and voices of Campbell and Holt, the grizzly belly of drawn out power chords only drives the music when all engines fire, otherwise it drifts into a commonplace setting however this push and pull is essential to the magic that unfolds as these songs progress into wondrous places. Really memorable record!
Favorite Track: The Ghost I Used To Be