Published Aug 21, 2014In a genre usually defined by grief, unfathomable weight and crushing riff structures, doom metal is not usually thought of as something that engages with light or healing. However, it's the cathartic potential of doom, and it's capacity for forward movement, that characterizes the second full-length record from Arkansas doomsayers Pallbearer.
The newly released Foundations of Burden was written during a time of great upheaval, according to bassist and co-lyricist Joseph Rowland, who tells Exclaim! that his "level of inspiration is always highest when I am in the midst of dealing with whatever the record ends up being about." What sets Pallbearer's approach to writing through darkness apart is their refusal to remain stuck in a place of misery, but rather make recording a process of moving through it.
According to Rowland, Foundations of Burden is "about two really specific things. A lot of it has to do with recognizing and letting go of regret, because regrets are what hold you in the past, and you can't rebuild if you're still trying to make something out of the ashes of your life. There's nothing there. And also, on the flip side of that [is] being able to recognize the difference between those regrets that you can't build anything positive out of and knowing what you do want to hold on to, and what you won't let life get in the way of."
This sense of hope and positivity is embodied in every aspect of the record, from the lyrics and composition to the production. "When we were in the studio," Rowland says, "a word that [producer] Billy Anderson (Eyehategod, Fantômas) used, and he used it a lot, was 'drama.' He spoke about it like an architectural thing, and figuring out where to shore up points that would be heavier with lighter elements around them. I really feel it has a lot of places that ebb and flow, and even though in most places everything it's heavy, it has so many places that are way lighter, so many lighter shades on the palate than we had really ever worked with before. We were a lot more confident to take risks and make in not always be bludgeoningly heavy all the time."
Rowland admits that intense catharsis "wasn't a goal to begin with," but became something they were more aware of the more they interacted with fans. "Once [2012's] Sorrow and Extinction was out in the world and people had time to absorb it, we had people coming up to let us know how much the record had meant to them and the various ways they felt it had helped them through their own struggles."
While it might be an unusual emotional register for doom to engage in, Rowland believes that hope is exactly what Pallbearer want to embody on Foundations of Burden. "The essence of hope is that you want to be in a better place than you are right now. You're looking forward to something positive or even just like some sort of elemental change that is better than wherever you might be. That is what hope embodies, and that is in the record a lot. It might still be in a place that is melancholy and feels depressive, but you're not looking back, you're looking forward."
As previously reported, Pallbearer will be touring throughout North America after a European jaunt in September, including shows in Toronto and Montreal. You can find those dates below.
Foundations of Burden is out now on Profound Lore.
09/03 Utrecht, NL - Tivoli de helling ^
09/04 Bristol, UK - The Fleece ^
09/05 Manchester, UK - Roadhouse ^
09/06 Glasgow, UK - Audio ^
09/07 Leeds, UK - Brudenell Social Club ^
09/08 London, UK - The Underworld ^
09/10 Dortmund, DE - FZW ^
09/11 Groningen, NL - Vera ^
09/12 Aarhus, DK - Atlas ^
09/13 Gothenberg, SE - Truckstop Alaska ^
09/14 Oslo, NO - Hostsabbat - Betong ^
09/16 Helsinki, FI - Tavastia ^
09/17 Stockholm, SE - Slakthuset ^
09/18 Copenhagen, DK - Loppen ^
09/19 Leipzig, DE - UT Connewitz ^
09/20 Wroclaw, PL - Firlej ^
09/21 Berlin, DE - Bi Nuu ^
09/23 Prague, CZ - Klub 007 ^
09/24 Vienna, AT - Arena ^
09/25 Innsbruck, AT - PMK ^
09/26 Winterthur, CH - Gaswerk ^
09/29 Lausanne, CH - Le Romandie ^
10/02 Barcelona, ES - Razzmatazz3 ^
10/03 Madrid, ES - Villamanuela ^
10/04 Porto, PT - Amplifest ^
10/05 Erandio, ES - Sonora ^
10/10 Athens, GR - Kyttaro Club ^
10/11 Antwerp, Belgium - Desert Fest ^
10/17 Nashville, TN - Exit/In *
10/18 Lexington, KY - Cosmic Charlie's *
10/19 Champaign, IL - High Dive *
10/20 Madison, WI - The Frequency *
10/21 Detroit, MI - Magic Stick *
10/23 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop *
10/24 Toronto, ON - Lee's Palace *
10/25 Montreal, QC - Il Motore *
10/26 Boston, MA - Great Scott *
10/27 Brooklyn, NY - Saint Vitus *
10/29 Philadelphia, PA - Black Box *
10/30 Baltimore, MD - Metro Gallery *
10/31 Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
11/01 Atlanta, GA - The Earl *
11/02 Tampa, FL - The Orpheum *
11/05 Houston, TX - Fitzgerald's Downstairs *
11/07 Austin, TX - Fun Fun Fun Fest
11/09 Dallas, TX - Three Link *
^ with YOB
* with Tombs, Vattnet Viskar