Pallbearer - Foundations Of Burden

Pallbearer’s debut, Sorrow And Extinction, was our #1 metal album of 2012, and last December, Sorrow’s then-untitled/-unrecorded follow-up came in right around the midway point on our list of the 100 Most Anticipated Albums Of 2014. All work on that album is now complete — it was recorded and mixed by Billy Anderson, who also helmed Agalloch’s awesome The Serpent & The Sphere, and its cover art was created by Animetalphysical, who was also responsible for Sorrow’s striking, evocative sleeve. The album is titled Foundations Of Burden and it will be released in August. Now that I’ve heard the whole thing — and, in fact, listened to it several dozen times, with still-heightening excitement — I can say without hesitation it belonged a great deal higher on that Most Anticipated list.

Sorrow And Extinction was a great album, of course — a modern landmark for the doom subgenre — but Foundations is entirely more confident, more diverse, and more immersive. All the great elements of old Pallbearer are still on display — the dramatic, anthemic hooks, the intricate, intertwined guitars, the rolling, thunderous rhythms, and Brett Campbell’s keening, angelic voice — but here they seem steadier than they did before, as if they are merely the base of the songs rather than their entire being. Pallbearer are now more comfortable working with alternate textures and rhythms, not to mention bolder vocal dynamics: For his part, Campbell is plainly a stronger vocalist today than he was two years ago, and his towering performances are aided by masterful harmonies, backing vocals, and even some stunning lead vox via guitarist Devin Holt and bassist Joseph D. Rowland. Foundations wasn’t eligible for our list of the 50 Best Albums Of 2014 So Far, but had it been, I would have campaigned to push it to the uppermost reaches of that list. Right now, for me, it’s in a 3-way tie for the year’s best metal album along with Nux Vomica’s Nux Vomica and YOB’s upcoming Clearing The Path To Ascend.

Today the band is debuting Foundations track “The Ghost I Used To Be”; it’s the first song from the album to be made public, and a good choice for lead “single”: “Ghost” presents a compelling balance of the band’s beloved Sorrow-era style with some of the harder, faster, sharper, more dramatic elements they have built into their new sound. It’s a fantastic, ferocious song, and it’s not even my favorite track on the album, which should give you an idea just how good this thing is. Not that you need any such context — all on its own “Ghost” offers more than enough evidence of Pallbearer’s continued greatness. Listen.

Foundations Of Burden is out 8/19 via Profound Lore.

Comments (15)
  1. I have listened to Sorrow and Extinction more than any other metal album in the past 2 years (and I listen to a lot of metal). If this album is somehow better than Sorrow and Extinction it will be one of my favorite metal albums of all time. This wait will be unbearable.

    • FTFY: “This wait will be unPallbearerable”

    • I like it more, no doubt, which doesn’t necessarily means it’s better, per se — but it’s definitely a bigger, more ambitious record, and I personally find it to be a more beautiful record, too (among other things). I dunno, I have a lot of thoughts but I’ll save them for when the album is nearer. What did you think of the song, Shuffles?

      • I like the song a lot. It’s no Foreigner, which is my favorite song but it is good. Sorrow was a grower for sure and I just liked the album as a whole so much. My only concern about this new song on first couple of listens is the vocal. He sounds more confident and is taking more chances for sure . That is not necessarily a bad thing but for me I see the danger of him going too over the top. I’m still very hopeful.

  2. I kind of don’t get the falling over yourself praise for Sorrow And Extinction. I mean, it was a very good doom record. Great even. Better melodic doom than even 40 Watt Sun, but the way people freaked out over it seemed overly strong. I mean 2012 alone had records by Converge, Pharaoh, Kreator, Woods Of Ypres, Dawnbringer, Torche, Baroness, Christian Mistress, Black Breath, Panopticon and Anaal Nathrakh, all of which I thought were better than Pallbearer’s debut, but it seemed like Pallbearer got enjoy that coveted spot of “the one token metal album per year” that more mainstream critics gave it.

    Stoked about the new album (really), I’m just amazed that these guys got to be THE band.

    • There might be some confirmation bias at work there — I definitely remember the Baroness record being more widely covered in mainstream outlets than S&E. The Converge record probably, too. The rest of those are pretty marginal — Kreator is one of my favorite bands ever and I stanned pretty hard for the last record but no way was, like, Rolling Stone (or however we’re defining “mainstream critics”) gonna devote a ton of time to the 13th career album from a German thrash band in their late 40s. Something similar might be said of all the other albums you mentioned — those are pretty niche-y bands, man!

      • OK, but Pitchfork had time to cover a good number of those bands and yeah, they liked a few of them a lot (Baroness was BNM’ed), but when it came time to dole out the annual “which single metal record are we going to put on our year-end list?” it was Pallbearer’s. Doom metal is no more or less nichey than, say, what Black Breath or Dawnbringer are doing, but it seemed like, at least at the time, a great doom record was going to be perceived higher than a great power metal record. I’m going to caveat the hell out of this, I think Sorrow & Extinction is a great album (although, in terms of the subgenre, I prefer Yob’s Atma) and I am excited to get the new one, I’m just perplexed as to WHY it was deemed better or a more significant achievement than, say, Kentucky or Vanitas or even Yellow & Green.

        • Well it’s a question you really have to pose to individual critics — for what it’s worth I like S&E more than all the albums you mentioned, and looking now at our list of 2012′s best metal albums, I can’t find anything there that I like MORE than S&E (although there are a few albums there that I more or less like AS MUCH as S&E). Why is it worth of superlatives? In brief: Great songs, great performances, great sound, and Brett Campbell’s vocals are out of this world in a way that John Baizely’s are not (no disrespect to Baizely).

          • I guess everyone just heard something special in S&E that I wasn’t able to parse, though I still recognized its specialness (it’s like another “S&E” album by a band that starts with P – I was always a weirdo and liked Brighten The Corners best). Then again, maybe I’m just baffled that people didn’t fall over themselves praising the insanity of Vanitas or the emotional and technical depth of Kentucky and instead crapped there pants over what I thought was just another strong doom record with a greater ear for melody. I don’t know, 2012 was just such a strong year that I’m amazed a consensus was so easily reached.

          • It was a great year! But again there wasn’t really a consensus — Decibel had it at #5 on their list, behind (among other things) two OTHER doom records (Evoken and Witchcraft). Last year there was a greater consensus frankly (and deservedly, probably) with the Deafheaven/Gorguts/Carcass trifecta. But we’re talking in circles — it’s a great album, I like it more than you do, etc. (FWIW the new one is probably more Wowee Zowee than Crooked Rain.)

    • i agree with you carson. i loved the pallbearer demo and was really looking forward to the album. after multiple listens, i still have no love for s&e. it just falls flat to me. i couldn’t understand what people saw in it and still don’t. i’m the same way with the new agalloch. it’s a weak imitation of the mantle imo. and the instrumental interludes from the musk ox dude, although cool, are completely out of place.

      however, i do agree with stereogum’s number one so far pick. so maybe i’m not as out of touch as i feel.

  3. Yeah, sorry that I maybe forced us to say the same thing over again. I think I’ve just been cynical to a lot of doom records over the years. It’s a great record and I’m excited for the new one (also because I haven’t really been majorly blown away by any metal records this year). Can we find something we’re more closely attuned on? Like, how that Tony Molina album is the absolute perfect palette cleanser for any music fan?

  4. this track is quite reassuring, as S&E was my album of the year I was a bit concerned that they’d not be able to follow it up but the signs (and your words about it) are promising. pre-ordered, and can’t wait to see them play with Yob in September!

  5. This track is amazing. The first riff is somewhat similar to Foreigner (can’t blame them for that) but I love the cleaned up sound. This album will be good, no doubt.

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