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Album Review: Pallbearer Sorrow and Extinction

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Beyond Black Sabbath, traditional doom puts me to sleep. My interest in the bleak arts is only piqued by the extraordinary; Pallbearer are precisely that. Sorrow and Extinction is a phenomenal, unique and irresistible articulation of dysphoria. Enshrouding these mesmerizing riffs and exceptional vocals, however, is an umbra of triumph. Sorrow and Extinction transcends mere morosity; there is victory, even in death.

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Pallbearer manage, most remarkably, to hold you rapt throughout this melancholic voyage. Somber harmony is deployed as ineluctable sonic weapon. These are not esoteric convolutions, but direct and piercing melodies. Dual guitars and pleasingly present bass ply an engrossing resonance, interweaving prodigious pulverization with majestic leads. Each and every riff exists in service of the song; not a moment is wasted in pointless plod. 

Brett Campbell’s outstanding, ethereal vocals are poignant yet commanding, never lacking vitality. His voice recalls a young Ozzy denuded of nasality, but the comparison does little justice. Clean vocals, quite honestly, fail to please my ears at all in this day and age; Brett Campbell outclasses many a man. Sorrow and Extinction’s lyrics tread life-stealing astral paths, ponder numinous harbingers of death, and explore our power to stand up to grief, or to embrace oblivion, if that’s our choice.

Repeated listens bear out the vivifying drums, which drive and shape these molten floes. The massive, monumental riffs never feel languorous within these horological constructs. Calmer passages exude a latent volatility; rapturous upheavals lurk below. “Devoid of Redemption” builds to an absurd crescendo, churning an irresistible tempest of sludge.

Sorrow and Extinction is both consolation and cataclysmic companion. Pallbearer make me want to use my fists to pound and smash, to lift my arms in raging supplication. Doom just doesn’t do that for me; Sorrow and Extinction does.

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Sorrow and Extinction is out now on Profound Lore Records.

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