PALLBEARER: Heartless: CD/ 2 x LP

For Pallbearer’s third full-length album, this quartet from Little Rock, Ark., is once again in the doom metal camp. Yet their sound seems to showcase further influences than on previous releases. On the hour of music that comprises Heartless, I hear the band exploring their melodic side, with hints of Explosions In The Sky and Jesu. Lead singer Brett Campbell’s vocals are changing in a pleasant way. While they’re still reminiscent of Ozzy, he reaches for some higher, more angelic notes from time to time. It’s unfortunate, then, that backing vocals from his bandmates take away from the melodic tone of both the music and Campbell’s lead vocals. The lead guitar work, by contrast, sings with beauty—hopeful and triumphant. As I wrote in a review for the band’s album Foundations of Burden, this is a release that requires you to put on some headphones and let the sound wash over you. Despite the backing vocals disruption, this is Pallbearer’s strongest work. It’s also a great place to start if you’re not familiar with the band and want an entry point. –Kurt Morris (Profound Lore, profoundlorerecords.com)