Anybody who insists there isn't any quality heavy rock or quality rock music period out there is speaking from a position of ignorance and isolation. For so many people at and near my age (56), rock music ceased to exist after Guns 'n Roses' "Appetite for Destruction", never to venture past that point, even in many cases when it's from a classic band from their high school/college days. I personally being a musician with an insatiable appetite do not understand this. It makes no more sense than to refuse to watch any movie or television made after 1980, or drive a car made past that point either in a vain attempt to capture lost youth that will not return. I live next to the local school's baseball diamond, and on practice and play afternoons, they cue up the same damn tired cliched songs from the mid '70's to early '80's. These kids are getting 35 to 40 year old music forced on them, and while there was great music from every decade, had you lived in say, 1976, the equivalent would have been listening to the music that was popular in the 1930's. While again, there was great music from then too, this myopic attitude makes it impossible for the times when a truly superb band releases something really groundbreaking and special, having to compete with old crap that needs to be shelved at least on commercial radio.
"Heartless", Pallbearer's third album, is that very very special album. While millions drooled over "Boston", with its blend of heavy rock and great melodies (it is a great album although I'm sick of it), Pallbearer is doing what might be impossible in lesser hands, and blending doom with its banks of guitars and slow tempos with a beautiful melodic content that I saw coming especially on "Foundations of Burden"'s "Ashes", a gorgeous song that could have been a hit in another time.
So this time around, the band, being my homies from Arkansas (hooray), stayed in Little Rock to record, and the sound is awesome. The band has refined their previously dense banks of guitars, brightening up the overall tone without sacrificing their signature sound, and bringing vocalist/guitarist/synthesizer player Brett Campbell's vocals up higher in the mix. Some reviewers have called "Heartless" psychedelic", but that is not true. I figure much younger reviewers who do not have much experience with the true "psychedelia" of the '60's and '70's beyond The Doors or early Pink Floyd don't realize it's a huge step toward some great melodies that make this album so good. "Lie of Survival" ends very melodically and rather than bludgeoning into the next track like many bands do to show their fans they haven't pussed out, "Dancing in Madness" opens with probably the saddest most beautiful moment of the album, and in doom metal period. What we are getting here is a band that despite their roots has composed songs that are so good, so intelligent and wistful that even people who normally wouldn't listen to this type of music will not be able to do anything but notice how good Pallbearer are. In this respect, like millions who normally wouldn't listen to heavy music from the 1970's still loved "Boston" much for the same reason.
No, the two bands do not sound alike, but it is interesting to note that Pallbearer in some interviews for this album did cite Boston for the blend they created. "Heartless" will not be a mega platinum seller - very few albums nowadays are except for trashy Top 40/teeny bopper boy band/fake R & B acts. Pallbearer will, however, gather more fans and "Heartless", which is a really ironic title for such a deep album, will become the legend it deserves to be. Only Katatonia can come close to this style, and that's a compliment since that band is also excellent with their blend of melody and menace. I cannot recommend "Heartless" enough. My vote for the best album of the year at least at this point.
- Original Release Date: March 24, 2017
- Release Date: March 24, 2017
- Label: Profound Lore
- Copyright: ℗© 2017 Profound Lore
- Total Length: 1:00:00
- ASIN: B06VSC3Y6L
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,868 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)