Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden – 8/10

– Pallbearer return with their second album two years after their debut album Sorrow and Extinction helped them secure cross country tours opening up for bands such as Enslaved. This album continues where that first album left off. Pallbearer is a doom metal band. Taking cues from classic heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult and they mix it with sludge, stoner, and even black metal influences to create epic albums consisting of several 10+ minute songs. This 6 track album contains 4 songs that are over 10 minutes, and creates a journey that last about 54 minutes. The journey is full of slow paced songs with tons of atmosphere surrounding the tones and vocals. It often reminds me of The Atlas Moth without the shrieked vocals. However, the clean vocals are much more reminiscent of the band Ghost, which is obviously influenced by Black Sabbath and the vocal styles of Ozzy Osbourne. This album is very easy to get lost in. The first song, “Worlds Apart”, starts thing off with a melodic and memorable intro. The vocals come in 30 seconds later, and from there the song sees riff after riff, vocal melody after vocal melody, all for the duration of 10 minutes. It moves you along with the harmonies that accompany the vocals, melodic guitar lines that are like mini guitar solos, and even the addition of clean guitar tones in the mix. The drums, bass, and guitars all work together to create a wall of sound. It is perfect music to headbang to, or to close your eyes and softly bob your head to the music. It works on both of those levels. The song ends by getting slower and slower with a somewhat shrieking guitar tone in the background. “Foundations”, “Watcher in the Dark”, and “The Ghost I Used to Be” continue with the styles of the first song, but with their own subtle twists. “Foundations” starts with heavy, almost death metal like riffs, and ends with a beautiful nostalgic chord progression thanks to a soft clean section which acts as a beautiful transition. “Watcher in the Dark” starts off with just the guitars playing for mostly a minute, and has a mysterious section close to the end where the bass is more prevalent than the guitar lines. “The Ghost I Used to Be” sees a variety in the vocals as there are yelled vocals in the background which act as a call and response with the clean vocals. This song slowly fades away and into “Ashes”, the shortest and softest song on the album. This song focuses on keyboards, vocals, and drums, with the guitar only creating droning effects towards the end. It is a beautiful song and builds up nicely to “Vanished”, the final track on the album (and also the longest clocking in at almost 12 minutes). It starts off almost sounding evil as the guitar repeats a riff that is very reminiscent to the song “Black Sabbath”. The song twists with beautiful moments, quiet moments, faster and heavier moments, and finally ends by fading away. The album does not see a lot of diversity. Pallbearer has their sound, and they are comfortable with it. It is an easy album to just put on as background noise, but it is also a rewarding experience and pay close attention to the subtle differences between songs. I know a lot of people gave this album a much higher score and called it contender for the year, but for me it was another excellent album in a year that was full of excellent albums.