Pallbearer

Pallbearer’s third album, Heartless, is an inspired collection of monumental rock music. The band offers a complex sonic architecture that weaves together the spacious exploratory elements of classic prog, the raw anthemics of 90’s alt-rock, and stretches of black-lit proto-metal. Lyrics about mortality, life, and love are set to sharp melodies and pristine three-part harmonies. Vocalist and guitarist Brett Campbell has always been a strong, assured singer, and on Heartless, his work’s especially stunning. This may in part be due to the immediacy of the lyrics. Written by Campbell and bassist/secondary vocalist Joseph D Rowland, the words have moved from the metaphysical to something more grounded. As the group explains: “Instead of staring into to the void—both above and within—Heartless concentrates its power on a grim reality. Our lives, our homes and our world are all plumbing the depths of utter darkness, as we seek to find any shred of hope we can."

Pallbearer emerged from Little Rock, Arkansas in 2012 with a stunning debut full-length, Sorrow and Extinction. The record, which played like a seamless 49-minute doom movement, melded pitch-perfect vintage sounds with a triumphant modern sensibility that made songs about death and loss feel joyfully ecstatic. Pallbearer possessed what many other newer metal groups didn't: perfect guitar tone, classic hooks, and a singer who could actually sing.

For their 2014 followup, Foundations of Burden, the band worked with legendary Bay Area producer Billy Anderson (Sleep, Swans, Neurosis) for an expansive album that was musically tighter and especially adventurous. Armed with a more technical drummer, Mark Lierly, Foundations feels like it was built for larger shared spaces—you could imagine these songs ringing off the walls of a stadium. It was a hint of things to come. While the debut earned the band a Best New Music nod from Pitchfork and rightly landed the band on year-end lists at places like SPIN and NPR, along with the usual metal publications, Foundations of Burden charted on the Billboard Top 100 and earned the band album of the year from Decibel and spots on year-end lists for NPR and Rolling Stone.

Returning to where it all began, the quartet recorded their third full-length, Heartless on their own in Arkansas, and it’s grander in scope, showcasing a natural progression that melds higher technicality and more ambitious structures with their most immediate hooks to date. The collection, which follows the 3-song Fear & Fury EP from earlier this year, was captured entirely on analog tape at Fellowship Hall Sound in Little Rock this past summer and then mixed by Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Tool, Melvins, Soundgarden).

From the gloriously complex, sky-lit opener “I Saw the End” to the earth-shaking (and heartbreaking) 13-minute closer “A Plea for Understanding,” the entire group puts forth the full realization of their vision: More than a doom band, Pallbearer is a rock group with a singular songwriting talent and emotional capacity. Heartless finds the group putting forth their strongest individual efforts to date: Campbell and Rowland, along with guitarist/vocalist Devin Holt and drummer Mark Lierly, turn in peak marathon performances. Both Campbell and Rowland also handle synthesizers alongside their normal duties, and there are plenty of gently strummed acoustic guitars amid the crunchy electric ones, adding a moody, ethereal spareness to the towering metal. The almost 12-minute “Dancing in Madness” opens with dark post-rock ambience and moves toward emotional blues before exploding into a sludgy psychedelic anthem. A number of the seven songs feature a humid rock swagger.

By fusing their widest musical palette to date, Pallbearer make the kind of heavy rock (the heavy moments are *heavy*) that will appeal to diehards, but could also find the group crossing over into newer territories and fanbases. After having helped revitalize doom metal, it almost feels like they’ve gone and set their sights on rock and roll itself. Which doesn’t seem at all impossible on the back of a record like Heartless.

Spotlights is the Brooklyn-based married couple of Mario and Sarah Quintero.
In Spotlights, the Quinteros summon a supreme sound, equally heavy and dreamy. A tar-pit sludge-rock foundation is blanketed by layers of shimmering shoegaze. Their debut full length TIDALS was released on Crowquill Records in the spring of 2016 as a follow up to the synth laden, doom-pop EP, Demonstration. Tidals' songs rock hard and memorably, bringing to mind hints of bands, from Failure to My Bloody Valentine to Godflesh to Smashing Pumpkins and beyond.
Spotlights was handpicked by Deftones to support the band on three weeks of its summer U.S. tour in August of 2016. Select dates included support from 90’s post-hardcore, greats, Refused. They quickly followed up with a second national run in September with If These Trees Could Talk.
In December 2016 they self released the 3 song “odds and ends” EP, SPIDERS, featuring a cover of the song She Spider by MEW, and a remix of Joseph, the closing track on TIDALS, done by Aaron Harris (Isis/Palms). The Spiders EP served as the perfect way to hold fans over while the band continued work on their new record.

When it came time to record the the follow up full length to TIDALS, the Quinteros didn’t have to look far to find the perfect producer. “Choosing to work with Aaron [Harris] on our new record was a no brainer for us. We get along great and he completely understands where we are coming from musically and knows just how to capture that.” says Mario. Sarah adds “Plus, he’s an incredible drummer and we tricked him into playing on four of the songs!”. The three of them spent a week in Los Angeles at Palmquist Studios, putting together one of the most dynamic, and emotive collection of songs to date.

The new album, SEISMIC was released on Ipecac Recordings on October 6th 2017.

SUMOKEM was founded by vocalist/rhythm guitarist Jacob Sawrie in January of 2013, with Josh Ingram (lead guitar) and Drew Skarda (drums), later adding Alan Wells (Shitfire, Napalm Christ) on bass guitar.

SMKM have released a digital single as part of the Mutants of the Monster/Handshake Inc/Alternative Tentacles 2013/2014 Compilation, as well The Madness of Lu Shen Ti: Vol. 1 EP on Handshake, Inc, and received attention from Steel for Brains, Meat Mead & Metal, and Gaffa Magazine (Sweden).

Founding lead guitarist Josh Ingram passed away on May 9, 2015. Shortly after, SMKM parted ways with Alan Wells. In June 2015, Tyler Weaver and Dustin Weddle (Snakedriver/Seahag) joined the band, and SMKM have just released their first full length, The Guardian of Yosemite. A vinyl release is to come in early 2018 via Cursed Tongue Records.

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