When I was about 7 or 8 the original Star Wars was released at the cinema and I got taken to see it. I vividly remember as a little kid being overawed watching the Imperial craft slowly move over the screen, gradually filling it up, and taking over the entire thing and the noise it created. As an adult such things don’t seem so impressive, but as a kid that gradual build up was literally awe inspiring and I sat there open mouthed, gaping at the screen. Listening to the opening bars of the first track, “The Legend” on this 3 track demo from Pallbearer translates that same vibe into music. A lone, fuzzy bass line makes it’s discreet presence felt before the guitars slowly build an orchestrated fortress around it to create a huge sound that can only…and I’ve checked the thesaurus…be described as crushing. Pallbearer have no pretensions other than to play the ultimate in true doom in the fine tradition of Candlemass, early Trouble and Penance with an obvious nod to St Vitus. Interestingly the Sabbath influence is less obvious other than through the 80’s wave of doom. When the vocals kick in there is a touch of Ozzy it has to be said but there’s an equal amount of Paul Chain and a soupcon of Eric Wagner for good measure.
At over 8 minutes, “The Legend” shows that excess is the key here. The music rarely drags itself above a snail’s pace…albeit a fucking big snail that crushes all buildings in its path. Track two, “Devoid Of Redemption” at over 9 minutes follows a pretty similar blueprint…crawling rhythms, mighty, epic riffs and huge mournful vocals. It doesn’t offer any great variation on the opening track, but it doesn’t need to. Doom fans, and by this I mean real doom fans, will lap this up by the truckload.
The real ace in the hole here though is the final track, “Gloomy Sunday”. More open and less riff based than the other songs, this allows the vocals to shine. I will admit there is a definite Ozzy-from-the-first-album vibe going on here but with a little touch of Messiah Marcolin. In fact this is the track that Candlemass would have killed to have recorded 20 odd years ago being expansive and almost cinematic in its feel. Doom has a lot of classic bands and right here Pallbearer have proven that they are capable of creating a classic doom song that shines as bleakly as any within the last 30 years!!! I sit here 10 minutes after listening to it and the melody is still ringing in my ears.
This is a fantastic doom demo, easily as strong as anything that has been recorded in recent years and it’s no wonder that Shadow Kingdom Records have chosen to pick the band up to release their debut album. In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard as good a doom band in the last 20 years!!! No this doesn’t flirt with Death Metal, there is no Goth influence, no touches of NWOBHM and certainly no Black Metal. This is old school, classic, heavy as fuck melodic DOOM from the purple St Vitus-esque sleeve down to the filthy guitars, wailing vocals and fuzzed up bass…slow and low, that is the tempo. This is available as a free download from the band’s website so go and grab it…or just be a dick, it’s up to you!
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall