Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden (2014)

In the VIP section (balcony) at Mr. Small's Theatre (Pittsburgh), February 2013

In the VIP balcony at Mr. Small’s Theatre (Pittsburgh), February 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: for nearly two years, the Arkansas melodic doom quartet Pallbearer has been among my wife’s absolute favorite bands. I know she’d been eagerly snapping up every available bit of information leading up to the release of their second album; now that it’s been released, we listened to it together, and she had some strong reactions and opinions — so I asked whether she wanted to write something about it. So here is her review of Foundations of Burden.



PallbearerFoundations of Burden (Profound Lore Records, 19 August 2014)

reviewed by Mrs. Valley of Steel


I first heard Pallbearer in December of 2012 on accident. I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a video that someone had posted, which I thought was something else. I clicked on it, I listened and I had no idea what I was in for ultimately. I have to admit, I felt an immediate kinship to this music. For much of my life, I have felt an attachment to a darker side of my personality; I often embrace being melancholy and don’t always see it as the burden that some people do with those types of emotions. Pallbearer definitely tapped into that for me. I felt instantaneously connected to each riff and sludgy chord. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, this band is mainly responsible for so much of the music I have discovered in this journey with my husband over the past three years. It’s clearly felt personal to me and I am sure, with all the recent hype, that I am not the only one who enjoys dwelling in the despair.


Pallbearer at the Rex Theater (Pittsburgh), October 2013

Pallbearer at the Rex Theater (Pittsburgh), October 2013


I think what Pallbearer does best is tap into that familiar sweeping guitar tone and mucky riffs that those of us who had dads who were into The Alan Parsons Project, Yes, or — of course — Black Sabbath innately identify with. I revert back to that excitement of hearing my dad’s records in third grade for the first time. Like all good bands, they use these influences as refences that remind us of things that we are comfortable with, but you will never find yourself referring to them as a carbon copy of any particular band.

Their debut release Sorrow and Extinction is one album that has never failed to bring me down (in a good way) in the almost one-and-a-half years that I’ve owned it. Their songs could be easily taken at face value for sludgy and rough on the surface, then something happens on the second, third, or fourth listen where subtle nuances appear and you hear the effort behind the sound, inevitably sealing the relationship between you and the band.

Foundations of Burden, out on Profound Lore Records last Tuesday, does not shy away from any of that familiar sound that the band is known for. The band opens the album with “Worlds Apart,” and immediately you know you are right back on planet sulk. At times the track has an almost Gregorian tone which draws you in and prepares you for the wave of melancholy that is about to surround you. Right away you’re aware of just how incredible this album is going to sound. I read recently that producer/engineer Billy Anderson (whose credits include Agalloch and Undersmile, as well as classics by Sleep, High on Fire, and many others) said that this is the most guitar tracks he’s ever used with a band — and it shows. The album just shines in overall depth and sheer ability to fill a space. Hearing it for the first time I couldn’t wait to witness it live, which we will be lucky enough to do on October 23rd in Cleveland (with the amazingly talented — and VOS favoritesVattnet Viskar, and Tombs) at the Grog Shop.

Foundations is the next logical step for this band; the twin guitars are emphasized, while not shying away from the crawling-through-quicksand riffs. Brett Campbell‘s vocals are accented and not lost in any of the mix which is something that I felt like was a small (very small) downfall of the last release. It feels much more like a cohesive effort this time around. A highlight of this is track number four, “The Ghost I Used to Be,” which turned out to be my favorite on the album. The track includes a thrilling change of pace around the three-and-a-half-minute mark, shifting all of a sudden to inject an up-swing of energy into the procession, made all the more meaningful by its quick appearance. At about 6:10, you hit the apex of Brett‘s the vocals on this album which, upon hearing it the first time, gave me chills and I very nearly cried.

This burden of regret
Kindling to ignite
And a necessary end
To living in a lie
So when fires all burn cold
Leave behind a glowing husk
The ghost that I become again
Glides back into the dusk

And with that, you have attended the church that is Pallbearer. If this speaks to you… you just get it.

On “Ashes,” the fifth and shortest song on the album clocking in at only 3:19, the guys remind us that doom metal can be anything we want it to be and it doesn’t have to follow any rules. It’s almost bordering on doomy electronic music at times; it’s gorgeously sad and no one is upset about that. Just like we need it to be. No more, no less. It’s a perfect lead-in to the sixth and final track, the exit music “Vanished,” which is exactly what this song feels like in its ominous atmosphere. You feel almost calm as you give in and enjoy being swallowed by the crushing haze of tomorrow.

So much of Sorrow and Extinction was concerned with death, anger, sadness, grieving, and loss — things I have been struggling with myself since the death of my mother almost eleven years ago. Maybe that is what draws me in and makes me feel so personally intertwined to these four guys whom I’ve never met. This album begs you to put your burden of sadness into the vast void of music that is there and give in. On this sophomore release it feels like Pallbearer and I are both ready to move on to a place of reflection and forgiveness.


Foundations of Burden is streaming at Bandcamp, and you can buy the CD or MP3 versions here.


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6 responses to “Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden (2014)


    Pallbearer May-June 2017 Tour Dates


    • 11 May – Houston TX – Warehouse Live (w/ Pinkish Black and Gatecreeper)
    • 12 May – Dallas TX – Curtain Club (w/ Pinkish Black and Gatecreeper)
    • 13 May – Austin TX – Barracuda (w/ Pinkish Black and Gatecreeper)
    • 15 May – Phoenix AZ – Rebel Lounge (w/ Spirit Adrift and Gatecreeper)
    • 16 May – San Diego CA – Casbah (w/ Venomous Maximus and Gatecreeper)
    • 18 May – Los Angeles CA – Echoplex (w/ Venomous Maximus and Gatecreeper)
    • 19 May – Oakland CA – New Parish (w/ Venomous Maximus and Gatecreeper)
    • 20 May – Reno NV – Jub Jub’s (w/ Venomous Maximus and Gatecreeper)
    • 22 May – Salt Lake City UT – Urban Lounge (w/ Venomous Maximus and Gatecreeper)
    • 23 May – Denver CO – Bluebird Theater (w/ Venomous Maximus and Gatecreeper)
    • 25 May – Kansas City MO – Riot Room (w/ Inter Arma and Gatecreeper)
    • 26 May – Minneapolis MN – 7th Street Entry (w/ Inter Arma and Gatecreeper)
    • 27 May – Des Moines IA – Vaudeville Mews (w/ Inter Arma and Gatecreeper)
    • 28 May – Madison WI – High Noon Saloon (w/ Inter Arma and Gatecreeper)
    • 30 May – Columbus OH – Ace of Cups (w/ Inter Arma and Gatecreeper)
    • 31 May – Pittsburgh PA – Rex Theater (w/ Inter Arma and Gatecreeper)
    • 01 June – Washington DC – Rock & Roll Hotel (w/ Inter Arma and Gatecreeper)
    • 02 June – Philadelphia PA – Union Transfer (w/ Baroness and Nothing)
    • 05 June – Harrisonburg VA – Golden Pony (w/ Inter Arma and Gatecreeper)
    • 06 June – Louisville KY – Zanzabar (w/ Inter Arma and Gatecreeper)
    • 07 June – St. Louis MO – Fubar (w/ Inter Arma and Gatecreeper)



    Pallbearer New Zealand + Australian Tour 2017

    30 June – Perth – Rosemount Hotel
    01 July – Brisbane – Crowbar
    04 July – Sydney – Manning Bar
    06 July – Melbourne – Northcote Social Club
    07 July – Melbourne – Northcote Social Club
    08 July – Auckland – Whammy Bar
    09 July – Wellington – San Fran



    Pallbearer July-August-September 2017 North American Tour Dates:

    29 July – Sacramento CA – Harlow’s
    30 July – Berkeley CA – UC Theater
    01 August – Santa Cruz CA – Catalyst
    02 August – Ventura CA – Ventura Theater
    05 August – Anaheim CA – House of Blues
    06 August – Las Vegas NV – Backstage
    08 August – Boise ID – Knitting Factory
    10 August – Spokane WA – Knitting Factory
    11 August – Calgary AB – MacEwan Hall
    12 August – Saskatoon SK – O’Brians
    13 August – Edmonton AB – Brixx
    15 August – Vancouver BC – Cobalt
    16 August – Seattle WA – Crocodile
    17 August – Portland OR – Bossanova
    19 August – Missoula MT – Top Hat Lounge
    20 August – Billings MT – Pub Station
    22 August – Regina SK – Exchange
    23 August – Winnipeg MB – Good Will
    24 August – Fargo ND – The Aquarium
    25 August – Iowa City IA – Blue Moose
    26 August – Dekalb IL – The House Cafe
    27 August – Milwaukee WI – Cactus Club
    29 August – Detroit MI – El Club
    30 August – Toronto ON – Lee’s Palace
    31 August – Ottawa ON – Brass Monkey
    01 September – Quebec City QC – L’Anti Bar
    02 September – Montréal QC – Bar Le Ritz PDB
    05 September – Boston MA – Brighton Music Hall
    06 September – Baltimore MD – Metro Gallery
    08 September – Atlanta GA – Masquerade
    09 September – Knoxville TN – The Concourse


  4. Pingback: Mutants of the Monster 2018 (15-17 June, Little Rock AR) | Valley of Steel

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