Release Date: 23/10/2020
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
For Fans Of: Candlemass, Mastodon, YOB
When it comes to modern doom metal, Arkansas quartet Pallbearer stand as the undisputed kings. Their meld of classic sounding dirgey riffs and majestic soaring leads have meant that they have quickly become not only the high-water mark for the genre, but have also allowed them to cross over to a certain extent, bringing in fans who would usually give doom a wide berth. Three years after Heartless solidified this status, Pallbearer are back to cast their net even wider with Forgotten Days.
What makes Pallbearer so notable amongst their peers is how they manage to take a genre which traditionally has always felt very ‘heads-down-and-play’ and inject it with so much emotional weight. A lot of Forgotten Days is incredibly melancholic and tender, ‘Riverbed’ borders on becoming a lullaby at times with a full-on lighters in the air chorus which builds back into the crushing wall of sound experience that Pallbearer have become famed for. Even in the more traditionally doomy title track, the vocals of Brett Campbell and the six-string interplay between him and Devin Holt adds so much warmth to the track, bringing it somewhere in between Candlemass and Mastodon.
Although everything moves at the same mid-tempo pace, the band add so much texture that the record never drags or becomes tiring. There is a prog-like approach in many of these songs, especially in twelve-minute epic, ‘Silver Wings’. More often than not a song that is nearly a quarter of an hour would strike fear into the hearts of many, however in the hands of Pallbearer it becomes a true treat being able to hear all the different directions they pull in. Moving from extremely minimalist moments with feather-light guitars, to spacey synths swirling around Campbells ethereal vocals, the song shows just how grand and wide the band’s vision extends.
‘The Quicksand of Existing’ and ‘Vengeance & Ruination’ offer up a gurningly heavy one-two punch. The intro drum fills of the later are sure to have your first pumping in the air with every thud and show that when they want to Pallbearer can take things to the very grim end of the spectrum. Yet even here, once more Campbell shows that ear for an absolutely cracking vocal hook and it is this that make Pallbearer such an oddly palatable and listenable band. Even when the music is this impenetrable, there is always something that sticks out to grab on to and pull you into the murk.
In some ways Forgotten Days is a record which you just need to let wash over you. While there are certainly deeper details to pick out, simply soaking yourself in its luscious soundscapes offers a rewarding enough experience, even for those who might not have dipped their toe into doom before. The album showcases the very best the genre has to offer, with crushing depths and soaring heights. Pallbearer have managed to expand on their sound and perfect it at the same time, creating the best album of their career so far.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Riverbed’, ‘Vengeance & Ruination’