Following up on the critically acclaimed 2014 album, Foundations of Burden, Arkansas doom metal band Pallbearer have delivered another contender for metal album of the year with Heartless. My first exposure to the band was during their stint on the 2015 Decibel Tour, along with Converge, At The Gates, and Vallenfyre. I was overtaken by the wall of low tuned heavy guitars and how they contrasted against melodic, soaring vocals. Expanding upon their doom metal sound with progressive elements and stronger melodies from vocalist/guitarist Brett Campbell, the seven tracks presented are as catchy as they are heavy.

Opener "I Saw The End" is a six minute romp with a chunky rhythm section and soaring leads that can be almost 90's alternative-esque at points. The guitar harmonies by Campbell and Devin Holt are mesmerizing and contrast each other well. The production by Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Tool, Melvins, Soundgarden) gives the overall album a grungy and dirty feel. Drummer Mark Lierly pounds away in time, never sounding too flashy or polished but serving the songs as need be. "Thorns" opening riff may very well be the heaviest riff on the album, while the palm muted verse riffs tread towards Torche waters. The heavy takes a seat during the track's midpoint while an ambient, guitar based bridge comes to the forefront. Another heavy highlight is found on the track "Cruel Road". The seven minute assault never truly lets up, increasing in intensity until the songs final moments. The triple vocal attack of Campbell/Holt/Rowland screaming:

Until My Body Collapses
On The Cruel Road

Both Campbell and bassist Joe Rowland take on synthesizer duties to provide moments of ambience and post rock sensibility throughout Heartless, which is most evident on the beginning of "Dancing In Madness", where a two minute slow jam is accompanied by a wall of spacy synthesizer before the band increases in intensity for the remainder of the 12 minute track. Campbell's vocals are extremely strong, often being complimented with three part harmonies to really pop against the down tuned, chunky riffs. Much like Mastodon did shortly after their 2004 album Leviathan, Pallbearer has begun to show the signs of transitioning into the heavy rock spectrum, but that's realistically only apparent for the genre labelers out there. The sound is most definitely catchier, but make no mistake, this is a heavy album.

Overall, fans of the band that are hoping for a fantastic followup will definitely be satisfied. Heartless is released on March 24th via Profound Lore, and can be preordered at the attached link. Vinyl junkies be warned, the entire pressing is SOLD OUT with the exception the traditional black variant. Listen to "Thorns" below: