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Digital Subscriptions > Terrorizer Magazine > Terrorizer 280 > ALBUM OF THE MONTH

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

DOOM IS WHERE THE HEART IS

PALLBEARER

‘Heartless’

NUCLEAR BLAST

It has been exciting to watch Pallbearer go from strength to strength in recent years, especially since doom metal needs a young leader now that Sabbath’s bell has tolled portentously for the last time. What makes Pallbearer truly exceptional, though, is that this Little Rock, Arkansas quartet look beyond genre traditions while still honouring same. As a collective they have the musical abilities, both compositional and instrumental, to make doom that’s ornate and progressive in nature, yet still as emotionally profound as, say, Warning’s magnum opus ‘Watching From A Distance’.

‘Foundations Of Burden’ was a significant evolution towards what has matured in full bloom on their immaculate third album, ‘Heartless’. On ‘Foundations…’, ‘70s progressive rock song structures and the deft musicianship of that era combined with a much improved lead vocal performance from guitarist Brett Campbell, all of which differentiated Pallbearer from their contemporaries and garnered plenty of critical acclaim. The rousing vocal melodies and harmonising guitar interplay of their previous album have been honed spectacularly here and come in tandem with some of the most intricate, dynamic arrangements of the band’s short but impactful career.

There is something timeless about how ‘Heartless’ plays out; the classicism at its core is not easily crafted. Regal doom riffs, expressive solos and the complimentary guitar harmonies of Campbell and Devin Holt entwine on opener ‘I Saw The End’, setting the scene for what follows in equally dramatic fashion.

Campbell’s upper register has improved greatly; he holds notes like Bruce Dickinson on ‘Lie Of Survival’, drives the NWOBHM grit of ‘Cruel Road’ with Halford-esque theatricality, and brings the listener to their knees during the poignant, Warning-worthy ‘A Plea For Understanding’, the album’s emotional apex.

In fact, the only thing that sings brighter and bolder than Campbell, who is supported by Holt and bassist Joseph Rowland on backing vocals, is the solos and leads used frequently throughout, bolstered by the counterpoint bass-playing of Rowland and Mark Lierly’s adaptable drumming. Rich, memorable, soulful note progressions are vital to the flow of each song, providing both colour and shade when Pallbearer come baring their teeth during the sprawling ‘Dancing In Madness’ or drop the doom hammer on ‘Thorns’, a song containing a neo-classical coda reminiscent of prime Metallica. While in contrast, ‘Heartless’ also has some of the most delicate, beautifully accented passages of their career and huge choruses that would have dominated the airwaves like Boston or Asia did during the ‘70s/’80s.

Thematically, ‘Heartless’ is the most reactionary and realitybased record of Pallbearer’s discography thus far; the lyrics were written during that cluster-fuck of a US presidential campaign. So not only is this album as epic as riding a white stallion through the closed gates of heaven only to find it engulfed in flames, it’s lyrically pertinent for these difficult modern times. This is Pallbearer’s masterpiece, and it could very well be the best album you’ll hear this year. A brazen statement, sure, but one made without hesitation. Powerful progressive doom metal for doomed times…

LOCK UP

‘Demonization’

LISTENABLE

Is it still worth getting excited by supergroups? Given that virtually everyone involved in grind or black metal seems to be in at least three bands anyway, we needn’t even really question whether a band composed of individually great musicians is necessarily the sum of its parts; the very question of ‘supergroups’ seems a bit of a moot point by now. To give Lock Up their due, however, they’ve been around in one form since long before most currently active ‘supergroups’, with their first album ‘Pleasures Pave Sewers’ arriving way back in 1999. They genuinely deserve the tag, too: the current line-up features Nick Barker, Shame Embury, Anton Reisenegger (from Criminal and Pentagram Chile) on guitars, and Kevin Sharp replacing Tomas Lindberg on vocals. There’s no doubting the pedigree of the players involved in this album, but – as strange as it sounds – that’s kind of the problem. We’ve heard these guys doing this stuff many, many times before. We’ve even heard some of them do this stuff in the same group before – Lock Up is now the second band to include Sharp and Embury, along with Venomous Concept. No-one in Lock Up has anything to prove – they certainly don’t need to redefine the genre some of them helped invent – and this album is just a bunch of old mates playing together for fun. And that’s what it sounds like. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, but makes ‘Demonization’ a solid, not world-changing, album.

ED CHAPMAN

KEVIN SHARP ON HIS VOCAL TECHNIQUE

“I’m still not at the nursing home with a cocoa cup and the cane… but over the course of time, you learn things. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I know exact inflection, and pressure, there’s just some techniques that you learn as trial by fire, because you have no choice. Wherever you’re at, someone paid for a ticket to go see you, so you have to strengthen it up. Some kids, it’s just not meant to be. Like for example, when we did our first tour in Europe with Fear Factory, Burt[on C. Bell] always struggled with his vocals, he blew his voice out on the first soundcheck. It was terrifying. I think sometimes you’re just born with a certain thing.

Danny [Lilker] can learn how to play a violin in ten minutes, I can sit with headphones for thirteen hours and scream like a bitch in heat. It’s how it is. Born to be an idiot, you know?”

ABHORRENCE

‘Totally Vulgar – Live At Tuska Festival 2013’

SVART

Long deceased but recently reanimated Finnish death metallers Abhorrence only recorded a demo or two and an EP back in the early ’90s, and this live recording from Finland’s world renowned Tuska festival showcases most of the bands old recorded output from over two decades ago, comprising tracks from 1990’s ‘Vulgar Necrolatry’ demo and self-titled EP. The band disbanded soon after the latter was recorded and one member (Tomi Koivusaari) went on to form Amorphis whilst Abhorrence was left to dwell in the depths of underground obscurity for many years. The band sounds tight and energetic here however, and there’s an obvious rejuvenated hunger onstage with Jukka Kolehmainen’s growls sounding especially fierce.

[8] KAT GILLHAM

BRAVEYOUNG

‘Misery And Pride’

THE FLENSER

Originally recorded in 2014, Braveyoung’s second album has been touted as eerily foreshadowing of the serious motorcycle accident that would delay its release until now. It’s not hard to imagine that the unsettling world of ‘Misery And Pride’ could burst through the fabric of space and time to have real life consequences considering the dense and ominous atmosphere Braveyoung create. Part post-rock, part modern minimalist classical, and part Scott Walker-style avant-garde, these songs deal emotional gut punches, whether utilising simple, elegant orchestral swells (‘Blue Beyond The Hill’), desolate pianos (‘Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go’) or waves of white noise (‘Such A Worm As I’). Harrowing yet life-affirming, ‘Misery And Pride’ was more than worth the wait.

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About Terrorizer Magazine

Sitting here wrapping up this brand new issue of Terrorizer, I find myself realising how many ‘old’ bands or new bands with ‘old’ members have been on the cover over recent issues. I have come to the conclusion that it’s not because new bands are shit (just check out our Choice Cuts section for proof), it’s just that some of the old guard are still producing belting new albums and deserve the recognition. Obituary are no exception to this rule. It’s been around 26 years since I first set my eyes and ears on the death metal pioneers and they’ve always stayed close to my heart – hell, I still have my old personal bootleg of them playing Wrexham Memorial Hall at the start of the ’90s. They’ve had a few career wobbles since then, but their new self-titled album is testament to a band that can still deliver the goods and haven’t churned out formulaic rubbish. I hope you enjoy reading about the album’s creation and what being in Obituary means to all involved. Elsewhere there’s a heap of exciting new bands and projects covered including Venom Prison, Vodun, and the earth shatteringly ace OHHMS – all fucking incredible new bands. And then of course, we have some favourites who are back with new albums, so we hope you enjoy reading this all-encompassing issue. See you next month! Darren Sadler
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