Thursday night saw Pallbearer, Arkansa’s premier doom metal quartet, return to Melbourne for the second time in as many years. Touring off the back of Heartless, their third album in five years, these guys have built a small but well-deserved legacy within the ever-growing sphere of contemporary doom.
Opening the night was Melbourne post-metal five piece Cascades. They started shakily with ‘Whitewater’ from their latest album, the song eliciting a few laughs once the harsh vocals rumbled over the song’s clean introduction. The band looked a bit shaken, but no one in the crowd had expected those vocals, so the reaction was somewhat understandable. For 30 minutes Cascades played hardcore influenced post-metal tunes, with a solid nod to the likes of Neurosis and Isis. These guys are a talented bunch and just released a new album titled White, so I daresay we’ll be seeing more of Cascades in the future.
Next up was the noticeably mature three-piece, Bog. Straight away these guys gave the impression of American doom band Yob due to their image, three-charactered band names and (to a slightly lesser extent) their sound. These guys have two albums behind them and are pretty good at making hearty, sludge-laden doom. With shared vocals ranging from growls, cries and shrieks, Bog’s deep, feedback-heavy sound definitely scratched that doom itch we’d come to the Northcote Social Club for. Hiding behind a black curtain was the headliners themselves, Pallbearer. Teasing with feedback, a stagehand pulled back the curtain to reveal the four-piece waiting as they opened with ‘Thorns’, a groovy number off their latest album. The band made full-use of the intimate venue and slightly dwindled attendance numbers (this earlier show being the second announced Melbourne gig) as they unpretentiously chatted with the crowd and seamlessly deflected ‘Dopesmoker’ requests.
Bass player Joseph was quick to assert that the show was “…gonna be mostly new songs, hope that’s ok” with a shrug, which seemed fine by the crowd. Pallbearer are a band who are in it for the love, and know exactly what they want to do.
Despite the declaration of only playing new material, up next was ‘The Ghost I Used to Be’, the epic 10 minute song from their second album, Foundations of Burden. The siren of the opening riff induced the crowd into a trance of sways and head-bangs, presumably aided by slightly more than the music alone.
Pallbearer’s set was more varied than they’d previously led us to believe. ‘Devoid of Redemption’, the chunky fan-favourite was a crowd pleaser that got everyone moving, or at least, head banging more vigorously. Pallbearer moved through numbers off their latest album like the catchy opener ‘I Saw The End’, the epic title track ‘Heartless‘, and ending with the untouchable Pallbearer anthem, ‘Foreigner’.The lighting was basic, and the throughout the sets the sound desk struggled to keep on top of audio. Joseph jokingly compared their monitors to a Merzbow show, but not all bands are going to take these shortcomings so light-heartedly. There are definitely limitations of playing a smaller venue, but they really shouldn’t arise out of inattentiveness. Nevertheless, Pallbearer are the heart of the show and they had no problems entertaining their audience with their epic, and at times operatic brand of doom-metal. The band gracefully accepted handshakes and planned to party with the crowd after the show. A sound show by a good bunch of dudes who are heavily invested in both their band and fans alike.
- The Ghost I Used to Be
- I Saw the End
- Dancing in Madness
- Devoid of Redemption
- Worlds Apart
Photography by Sally Townsend