With only a three-song demo prior to this release, Arkansas doom heralds Pallbearer have dropped a bomb with their debut full-length, Sorrow and Extinction. It's not often that words like "flawless" get bandied about when it comes to a doom debut, but this album wholly deserves the high praise it's inspired.
The record is composed of five long, wrenchingly emotive songs, each drawing out the beauty of the instrumentation, to the point of pain and beyond. As the opening acoustic guitar notes of "Foreigner" quiver, tremulous and achingly vulnerable, the listener is drawn in, following a golden chord into the Minotaur's labyrinth. Then the huge, towering riffs crowd in, each as solemn and mournful as a headstone. Every note is played as if with aching arms, as though the sound is constantly being lifted and dropped, like the musicians can't possibly bear the weight.
The balance that Pallbearer achieve between the incredible heaviness of the music and the audience's ability to bear it is razor fine and brilliantly successful. The listener is constantly pushed to the point of being unable to endure the oppressive pace, the misery, the yawning chasm of despair. However, Sorrow and Extinction always manages to offer just enough beauty, just enough of a whisper of possible redemption that we do bear it and solder on through the gloom. Sorrow and Extinction is an achievement.
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