Celebrated doyens of progressive doom metal, Pallbearer became legendary almost immediately. Their debut album, //Sorrow And Extinction//, emerged in 2012 to widespread acclaim, as this mysterious band from Little Rock, Arkansas, skilfully blended enormous, post-Sabbath riffing with strange, crestfallen melodies and several tons of haunting atmosphere. 12 years on, Pallbearer are certified legends in the cerebral metal underground, but their new album promises to draw in curious prog fans like never before.

Despite many heavy moments, //Mind Burns Alive// is a significantly fragile and minimalist affair, and by far the most adventurous thing the band have ever created. The elegant flipside to 2020’s strident and riff-driven //Forgotten Days//, it perfectly encapsulates Pallbearer’s restless creative ambitions.

This band is still 100 percent about what /we/ are interested in making,” says singer/guitarist Brett Campbell. “That’s why the records are all so different from each other. We do something and say, ‘Okay, it would be boring to do that again, so let’s do something else next time.’ It’s whatever tickles our fancy at the time, or wherever our heads are at as writers. We’ve always drawn from the same pool of influences, but with each album different ones take precedence and become the focus of that particular record.”

As Campbell explains, the songs on //Mind Burns Alive// were written alongside those on //Forgotten Days//, and as far back as late 2018. As he and bassist Joe Rowland assembled their respective demos, it became apparent that Pallbearer had two distinct new records to play with: one that fulfilled the band’s accepted remit of artful but crushing doom metal, and another that took their music further out into the prog realm. From the mellifluous restraint of recent single //When The Light Fades//, to the ornate muscularity of closing epic //With Disease//, //Mind Burns Alive// is a beautiful and endlessly dynamic piece of work.

//Forgotten Days// was a very stripped down record for Pallbearer,” Campbell notes. “We wanted to do something that would kick you in the teeth. Then we took the other songs, which are more delicate and nuanced, and that sounded like /another/ record, so we ended up with two albums. We originally planned to record //Mind Burns Alive// in March, 2020, but for obvious reasons that didn’t work out! We tried again in 2021, but we all got Covid! [Laughs] So what you hear on the album is the third version, and I’m glad it turned out that way, because we spent a lot more time refining the songs.”

While Pallbearer’s early albums were defined by meandering 10-minute epics, //Mind Burns Alive// strips their songwriting down to its bare essence. The result is a gorgeous but reassuringly morose record that seems destined to ruffle a few feathers among the band’s diehard fan contingent. Brett Campbell acknowledges that his band are throwing out a curveball, but also notes that Pallbearer fans should continue to always expect the unexpected.

We’ve been around for a while,” he grins. “We can still have the same identity, but we can say more with less. People who have been with us over the years, they’ll accept that we do different stuff from time to time. I know some people won’t like it, but that’s //When When The Light Fades// came out, people were saying, ‘What the fuck? Where are the heavy riffs?’ There /are/ heavy riffs, just not in that song! [Laughs] Next time, we’re going to make a polka record. Give the people what they want!” DL


LINE-UP: Brett Campbell (vocals/guitar), Joseph Rowland (bass/vocals), Devin Holt (guitar/vocals), Mark Lierly (drums)

SOUNDS LIKE: Earthy, post-rock songcraft colliding with esoteric doom (in slow motion)

CURRENT RELEASE: //Mind Burns Alive// is out now via Nuclear Blast


Dom Lawson

From "Limelight - Pallbearer" Prog Reprinted with permission.

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