Enter their world for an hour
There is still – even though this is their third album – something a little incongruous about a band from Little Rock, Arkansas that sounds like Pallbearer.
From that type of area you might think they would be some Lynyrd Skynyrd type thing, maybe country, but no, not a bit of it.
Which then leads on to the not altogether easy question of what Pallbearer do actually sound like. The answer, without sounding too glib is, well, Pallbearer.
Their other two albums and their EP have been great, but there’s a feeling that everyone here has pulled out all the stops on “Heartless” and its results are stunning.
A seven-song journey of a second under an hour, “Heartless” takes in stops at just about everywhere, and if a doom/prog crossover sounds like your bag, then to be honest, you’ve found your favourite band.
Opener “I Saw The End” kicks off like it wants to be Paradise Lost at their most epic, but Pallbearer have a couple of trump cards in their pocket that make them special. First is singer Brett Campbell who has a better voice than just about all his contemporaries (witness the harmonies here for goodness sake) which means that where others would grunt and growl this is properly sung and sounds magnificent. The second, is that alongside the downtuned riffery – the opening of “Thorns” anyone – there is a gift for melody and acoustics that wouldn’t be amiss on an early Genesis record.
“Lie Of Survival” shows this perfectly and is like being transported back in time to when the greats were just finding their feet, “Dancing In Madness” adds some synthesisers over interesting drumming patterns from Mark Lierly to create something that is sonically incredible.
“Cruel World” comes with a perfect guitar sound, and is perhaps heavier than some. It’s opening guitar solo is a soaring affair that belongs in Stadiums, while the vocals here owe a debt to the NWOBHM.
It’s title track is the most conventional doom thing here and is a compelling piece of work, while there is no doubt at all as to its most ambitious effort.
The brilliant closer “A Plea For Understanding” – all 13 minutes of it – is not only a labour of love for all concerned, but also a magnificent song that contains more within than most bands manage on a record.
With “Heartless” Pallbearer have made something that is challenging when it needs to be, crushing when it wants, but they’ve also made something monumental that will stand the test of time.