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Pallbearer - Heartless Award winner

Pallbearer
Heartless
by Lauren Fonto at 24 May 2017, 6:02 AM

I remember rating PALLBEARER’s “Foundations of Burden” and “Sorrow and Extinction” highly when they came out; I’m almost certain that those albums made my end-of-year lists at the time. I certainly had high expectations for “Heartless”, while at the same time wondering if I would be severely disappointed. It turned out that I needn’t have worried – the band has pulled off another stellar doom offering. This time around, they’ve added some progressive rock elements, which give a lighter contrast to the heavy, dirge-like parts. A good example of this contrast is opener “I Saw the End”, with beautiful guitar interplay between Brett Campbell and Devin Holt.

Speaking of Campbell – he gives a confident, soaring vocal performance on this album, and the harmonies with bassist Joseph D. Rowland were on-point.  On “Foundations”, Campbell was a tad shaky, but there’s none of that now – his ability to sustain notes smoothly is really good. I thought that his vocals had an otherworldly quality to them on “Dancing in Madness”, which sends an already beautiful song soaring to stratospheric levels. Closer “A Plea for Understanding” is a heart-wrenching number which details a break-up, and brings forth an emotional response as good doom metal should.

When talking about an album which I’ve already called “stellar”, it’s hard to find fault. There is a minor quibble though, and that’s the somewhat incongruous “Cruel Road”, it has a hard rock feel to it which doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the songs on this track. While production is usually one of the few things I find to critique on albums which have really impressed me, I don’t have any complaints about “Heartless” production-wise; Mark Lierly’s drum parts are resonant and thunderous, while Rowland’s bass is strongly felt, with a dynamism that’s allowed to shine through. I’m fairly certain that like its predecessors, “Heartless” will end up in my top 10 at year’s end, and I look forward to more listens of this album to see if it stands the test of time. This is a superbly crafted piece of Progressive Doom Metal.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
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
Lineup:
Joseph D. Rowland – Bass, vocals, synthesizers
Devin Holt – Guitars, vocals
Brett Campbell – Vocals, guitars, synthesizers
Mark Lierly – Drums 
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records
     


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