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Pallbearer - "Sorrow and Extinction" (CD)

Pallbearer - "Sorrow and Extinction" CD cover image

"Sorrow and Extinction" track listing:

1. Foreigner (12:22)
2. Devoid Of Redemption (8:22)
3. The Legend (8:46)
4. An Offering Of Grief (8:38)
5. Given To The Grave (10:56)

Reviewed by on March 12, 2012

"An early contender for a spot on any sane metal fan’s 'Top 10 of 2012' list, 'Sorrow and Extinction' is carried by four stellar musicians weaving together five cuts of visionary doom metal."

All it takes is one demo for a band to gather up the right kind of publicity to make a debut album more significant than if the band skipped the whole “early demo/EP/split” portion of their career. With three songs released in 2010, Pallbearer had doom metal aficionados singing their praises, almost begging for a full-length. Signing to Profound Lore Records, a top-notch independent metal label, Pallbearer has revitalized traditional doom metal with “Sorrow and Extinction.” An early contender for a spot on any sane metal fan’s “Top 10 of 2012” list, “Sorrow and Extinction” is carried by four stellar musicians weaving together five cuts of visionary doom metal.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of Pallbearer will recognize “Devoid Of Redemption” and “The Legend” from their first demo. The studio versions on “Sorrow and Extinction” are structured in identical fashion to the demo, other than a crisper production job, a tighter bass opening on the latter and improved vocals. Guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell has a soaring clean tone that evokes a Candlemass/Saint Vitus feel, though the music takes up more time than the vocals. Drawn-out instrumental passages take a dominant position on all these songs, and not one boring section is to be heard as the songs hover near 10 minutes each.

The three newly-composed songs take the substance of the demo and fleshes it out with acoustic accompaniment and honed-in guitar harmonies from Campbell and second guitarist Devin Holt. Combined with the sulking doom metal already established in the 2010 demo, this merging of sounds gives the band a leg-up on what qualifies for being modern doom. No death metal or synthy keyboards; the only keys used heighten the somber aura on “Given To The Grave.” This closer is largely instrumental, breaking away for three minutes of guitar slinging and trading off solos with a wild energy hidden for 98% of the record.

Doom metal has never found much use for the “good” of mankind in the lyrics, and Pallbearer takes the album title very seriously. A reflective acoustic guitar strums on “Foreigner,” introducing a tale of a lost soul crying out for a helping hand that never appears. “Given To The Grave” only needs four lines to set the scene for a funeral in a steady downpour, as the coffin descends into the darkness of the unknown. These subjects have been written about a trillion times, but Pallbearer still emotes the right amount of sorrow to fit in with the extinction on hand.

Pallbearer had a tall feat ahead of them, living up to their demo, and “Sorrow and Extinction” does so with an unnatural level of ease. This is doom metal exactly as the forefathers of the genre saw it to be; just given a reworking suitable for 2012. The pace is excruciating, always one step away from feeling uncomfortable. “Sorrow and Extinction” is one of the first great doom metal albums released this year and any doom fanatic should go out of their way to find this record right away.

Highs: Traditional doom metal that doesn't feel retro, nice use of acoustics on a few tracks, guitar harmonies between Brett Campbell and Devin Holt, never gets boring even with the slower tempos

Lows: More new material could have been welcomed, instead of reusing the two demo tracks.

Bottom line: "Sorrow and Extinction" is a fantastic doom metal record that is a necessary buy for fans of the genre.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)