by Chris Bryson
The reaches of metal have always been in flux and constantly pushed by those with innovative minds, who dare to defy genre expectations and purist mores. In recent years especially so, it’s been crossover metal that has been increasingly breaching the mainstream, and it’s been the permutations across genres that increasingly bring non-metal fans to metal music, to embrace the might and the magic – the burn and the beast.Pallbearer are a band who’s found captivation through mountainous sound, wisdom through wounds and despair, and redemption in a difficult world. Their sound is a dynamic blend of doom-prog metal that melds the slow, heavy, and mournful pacing of doom with the evolving and shimmering circuitry of prog for results that are emotionally vibrant and cathartic.
The band will be playing the Good Will on August 23rd in the midst of an extensive tour that runs from July 29th to November 9th and will take them all over the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Stylus spoke with Joseph D. Rowland, bass player and backing vocalist for the band, about their upcoming tour, their new album Heartless, music’s increasing genre crossover abilities, and a few other things along the way.
Rowland says the band has been to Winnipeg once before in February of 2013 with Enslaved, when the band got snowed in and were forced to stay in the city for three days. “I don’t know that touring through Canada in February was maybe the greatest scheduling,” Rowland says with a laugh, “I guess it was fine for Enslaved because they’re used to that sort of weather.”
With the release of their most recent album, Heartless, the band took a different route with recording this time around. Rowland says the recording was different “in every way you can imagine,” and their results were everything they sought to achieve.
“We decided to record the record in Little Rock this time instead of going somewhere else which we had done on our previous two albums,” says Rowland. “Apart from that in the interim between Foundations of Burden and Heartless I had relocated to New York City, so a lot of the record was written basically sharing stuff over the internet and then I would fly down every month to rehearse over the stuff with everybody leading up to the recording of the album. So I mean just on those two things alone it was markedly different than anything we had done before.”
With making Foundations of Burden the band found that their living conditions made for stressful and less than ideal living conditions. Rowland says that they were “living in the studio where we were recording every day and it got to the point where it was madness inducing. Every day sort of just bled into another and because we weren’t leaving the place we were working it started to seem like we were living in some sort of nightmare.”
Rowland says that the band “knew that (Heartless) was going to be really challenging to record because the songs are significantly more complex than anything (they) had done before.” So in an attempt to reconcile the difficulties that came with their previous album’s living conditions, improve upon certain aspects of their sound, and be able to fully immerse themselves in their music and creative expression, they found a new location to record in.
“We wanted to give ourselves a very low stress environment to record in which made sense to do in the neighborhood. Like basically the studio where we recorded the record was in the same neighborhood where everybody else lived,” explains Rowland. “It was a choice on our part to lessen some of the other stressors that had arisen in the past when we’ve recorded and to be able to focus solely on the album itself and take it easy instead of, you know recording a record but also living kind of in a non-ideal situation in another city while we were recording, being cooped up in the studio or something.”
Pallbearer are a band known for their broad array of influences and their fearlessness with incorporating certain sonic elements into a genre that’s not typically associated with those sounds. At least to the degree that Pallbearer have quested to discover.
Stylus asked Rowland his opinions on their success and genre crossover accessibility and likened their music for bringing doom metal to light in a similar way that Deafheaven brought black metal to light, a band that Rowland professedly loves and who Pallbearer have toured with in the past.
“I definitely think that their ability to pull from a lot of different genres to create the music that they make is really excellent. And I mean I feel that musically we’re pretty different from them but yeah I guess I would agree that just on a very basic level we are essentially trying to create music without limits,” Rowland explains. “From all of our vast amounts of music that we feel strongly about or influenced by we’re basically willing to consider anything collectively as a direction that we might be interested in going in as long as we all agree that it’s fitting for what we want to do. I don’t know how that may or may not translate to any sort of crossover success but I think we are willing to consider many, many different kinds of elements that sort of fall outside of the things that a lot of genre purists or true cult metal fans may consider to be sort of false things. We don’t really give a fuck about sticking to any sort of orthodox idea of what metal or music should be at all.”
Pallbearer will be playing the Good Will with Kayo Dot and Bask on the heels of a series of select shows with GOST, Oni, and Gojira, before heading overseas for select shows with Paradise Lost. Becoming veterans to touring, and with plenty of success on their back, Pallbearer will be crossing Canada with their own mountainous and momentous force.