Released: 2014, Profound Lore Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Anytime a band has a wildly popular and/or successful debut, the critical response to the inevitable sophomore effort is always a fascinating social commentary. As I’m writing this, FOUNDATIONS OF BURDEN has barely been on the streets for a week and based on what I’ve read so far, Pallbearer are either hipster poseurs who don’t deserve to be taken seriously or they’re the one of the most important doom bands in the genre currently.
I subscribe to the latter train of thought.
Their SORROW AND EXTINCTION debut was a flawless excursion into the depths of sonic melancholy, and I’d selfishly hoped that the masses wouldn’t catch on too quickly for the very reason that success (regardless of how warranted or deserved) breeds trolls who hate anything that lots of people like. And while I don’t necessarily love FOUNDATIONS OF BURDEN on the same level of mania as its predecessor, it’s still an exceptional and uncompromisingly powerful record that deserves EVERY bit of praise lauded upon it.
While SORROW AND EXTINCTION was a solemn and f@#king oppressive sounding album, FOUNDATIONS OF BURDEN sounds like the anger that builds as one begins to step into the light from a deep, dark depression. The core Pallbearer values are still present; dense riffs coupled with moments of bright reprieve and Brett Campbell’s melodious vocal stylings. But the riffs are more active and angry, the atmosphere is more robust and colorful. Simple enhancements for sure, but they add layers of welcomed depth to the band’s sound that pushes each track to its fullest potential. Listen to the opening “Worlds Apart” and you’ll understand what I’m talking about, just a majestic track from start to finish. “Foundations” offers up some grit and grumble before succumbing to its own weight and seguing into a gorgeous coda, while “Watcher in the Dark” and “The Ghost I Used to Be” flex equal moments of harmony and toil. “Ashes” acts as a softly woven interlude toward the closing “Vanished”, which communicates a totally submissive sense of mortal insignificance; in a word – powerful.
Understand this - 2014 will be the year that Pallbearer breaks big time, and FOUNDATIONS OF BURDEN will be the catalyst. With FOUNDATIONS OF BURDEN, Pallbearer have managed to create the soundtrack to raw human emotion; the sadness, the resentment, the loss, and the longing for hope we all feel. It’s a remarkably consistent album that offers new discovery with each listen, and one that will challenge your preconceptions about what the doom genre is capable of. Buy this now.