Pallbearer 'Forgotten Days': Doom metal band's fourth album does not have a single weak moment
Pallbearer has been making some of the most exciting metal music in recent times. Hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, Pallbearer – which comprises of vocalist & guitarist Brett Campbell, guitarist Devin Holt, drummer Mark Lierly, and bassist Joseph D Rowland – have released three studio albums till date: 2012's 'Sorrow and Extinction', 2014's 'Foundations of Burden', and 2017's 'Heartless'. Each of these records was critically acclaimed with 'Heartless', their last release, being declared one of the best albums on 2017 by various publications. Now, as a follow up to the masterful 2017 album, Pallbearer has, after over three-and-a-half years, released their fourth LP titled 'Forgotten Days'. And, without a doubt, 'Forgotten Days' will also be counted amongst the best albums of the highly unusual year that is 2020.
As the name suggests, 'Forgotten Days', much like their previous albums, deals with the human condition and the pains of simply existing. But, this time, Pallbearer are interested in the inevitable deterioration that a human being suffers by the virtue, or vice, of being alive. It highlights the helplessness of being birthed and, ultimately, our fruitless lives ending in a sad, unavoidable and painful death. It reminds us, over and over again, that no matter who we are or how invincible we believe ourselves to be, our fates are decided and there's not a thing we can change about the way things will end. Death will, 'Forgotten Days' rightly asserts, reduce all of us to mere memory of what we once used to be.
Staying true to this overarching theme on the opening song, which is also the title track, Campbell sings of a person at the precipice of death who's rapidly losing touch with everything they once were. Over melodic yet heavy riffs he sings, "Dark clouds move closer / At the edges of my mind / Obscuring / Consuming my perception of time". The process of aging – as one grows from carefree childhood to burdensome old-age – finds itself the major theme of the next track 'Riverbed'. On 'Riverbed', a song with soaring and inspiring guitars that blend and harmonizes perfectly, Campbell's sings, "I wore away, as years washed by / Like a stone in any riverbed to find / But I am flesh and bone, awaiting peace of mind / I’ve lost myself in thoughts of days behind." Pallbearer constantly remind us that our egos will one day dissipate into nothingness, and we'll be unable to recall our best of days as we turn to a husk of a human being.
But, on 'Stasis', the band is strangely motivating. The lyrics, which can be interpreted in numerous ways, remind us that we often have our lives on repeat. One day bleeds into the next and, somewhere in between, we forget we're even alive. 'Statis' brings out the varied and ambitious nature of the record, which is only cemented further by 'Silver Wings'. A little over 12 minutes in length, 'Silver Wings' is one of the best tracks on 'Forgotten Days'. An epic ballad with monstrous riffs and moving chord progressions, 'Silver Wings' mashes doom's gloomy atmosphere with the quiet beauty of progressive rock. Its gigantic, monolithic riffs juxtapose with pristine guitar passages that are subtle and melt away effortlessly. This gives way to 'Vengeance & Ruination', a song with chugging guitar riffs & and relentless drumming that clang and bang in the background with an almost unnoticeable detachment. The vocals here are visceral and menacing as Campbell moans, "Carve away / Dignity / Piece by piece / For all to see / Stripped and flayed / Humanity / For the lost / No sympathy."
The final two tracks, 'Rite of Passage' and 'Caledonia', usher in stronger prog-rock vibes with archaic guitar sections and shimmering instrumentals. Both these tracks end in a doomy, heady crescendo and are epically structured. Righteous and powerful, 'Forgotten Days' does not have a single weak moment on the entire record. Pallbearer, after 'Heartless', has put out another record that is mature with reflective & unnerving songwriting, and flawless production (by Randall Dunn). It's a necessary listen for anyone who enjoys metal and progressive music, or is looking for something doomier and heavier.
'Forgotten Days' will be available worldwide on October 23, 2020, on all major streaming platforms.