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Pallbearer Minds Burn Alive Review

Pallbearer Minds Burn Alive Review The Shoegaze Doom Album
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Pallbearer’s latest album Mind Burns Alive is a heavy departure from its previous albums, blending elements like prog and shoegaze with doom metal. Is it any good? Read the review…


The TL;DR Verdict

Pallbearer’s Minds Burn Alive…

Mind Burns Alive by Pallbearer is a bold departure from their traditional doom sound, incorporating elements of shoegaze and prog. It demands multiple listens to fully appreciate its depth and while it may be divisive among long-time fans, it showcases the band’s evolution and willingness to explore new musical territories.


Richard Goodwin ELECTRIKJAM

Pallbearer has taken the concept of what the band stands for musically, its traditional approach to building its tonal palette, its approach to composition, and moved it into completely new and uncharted territory

— Richard, ELECTRIKJAM

Key Takeaways

Best Track

Endless Place

Album Length

50 Mins

Produced By

Pallbearer

Release Date:

May 17, 2024

Rating (Outta 5):

★★★


Pallbearer Minds Burn Alive Review

Pallbearer Minds Burn Alive Review

Doom metal is pretty popular these days, but Pallbearer is something else entirely. The band came out of nowhere and quickly became the de facto reference band for the genre, thanks to their impeccable guitar tones, soaring vocal lines, and grief-drenched melodies.

Now five albums deep, the Little Rock doom mongers have come a long way since their debut album, the excellent Sorrow and Extinction, in 2012.

I’ve been a fan since day one. The first two albums were outstanding. The first was explosive, doom-heavy, and laced with the kind of riffs you cannot get out of your head for days after hearing them.

Less Doom, More Prog / More Accessible

Part of what made Pallbearer so impressive right off the bat was their sound. They created this new kind of funeral doom that, while obviously heavily influenced by other seminal doom bands, was totally their own.

All great bands do this, from TOOL to Mastodon to the Beatles, and this is why Pallbearer quickly shot to fame inside the metal/doom niche.

The band banged out albums in quick succession too, following up their debut with the equally impressive Foundations of Burden (my personal favorite album).

The band’s earlier albums were big, loud, and cleverly executed, with outstanding production, especially on the guitar parts—everything you want from a modern metal/doom band.

The Post Forgotten Days Era

Pallbearer began departing from their “trademark sound” with the release of Forgotten Days in 2020, introducing a more accessible overall sound and palette to their music.

The album was solid but, for me, it lacked the finesse of Heartless and Foundations of Burden, both lyrically and with respect to the riffage.

And now here we are with Mind Burns Alive, arguably the band’s most accessible release to date. Upon spinning the album for the first time, my immediate reaction was: I don’t like this—what have you done with Pallbearer, Pallbearer!

The first track, Where The Light Fades, really sets the tone for the album: slow, contemplative, moody. It’s not heavy; there’s no gain on the guitars or fuzz until the 3:30 mark, and the vocals are very stripped down and vulnerable.

Where The Light Fades reminds me of a Pink Floyd track, vocally, and it is deliberately thin-sounding. Initially, I thought including some acoustic guitars and synth work would have made the track better. But like everything with this album, it’s all deliberate. It builds, it swells, it recedes, then it builds and swells again.

The big moments—the big riffs, the heavier parts—are used more sparingly on this record. They’re there, of course, but they’re now woven into a much wider, more complex tapestry, acting more as a crescendo than a focal point of any track, a thing you move towards, something to be earned.

Brett Campbell’s vocals on this album are another high point for me. Stepping outside one’s comfort zone is never easy, but I sense Brett did that a lot on this album.

There is a nuance to his vocals in parts of Minds Burn Alive that you do not hear on any of the band’s previous work.

Vocalist/guitarist Brett Campbell: “These songs are a deeper exploration of dynamics and sonic color than anything we have done up to this point. I’m of the belief that true heaviness comes from emotional weight, and sometimes sheer bludgeoning isn’t the right approach to getting a feeling across.”

And like any good vocalist, he knows when he’s required and when it’s best to let the riffs do the talking (see Endless Place for a great example of this that includes a saxophone).

Let’s Call This Shoegaze Doom

Part shoegaze, part doom, part prog, Minds Burn Alive is going to be a massively divisive album for Pallbearer fans who, generally speaking, are split into two camps: those that like pre-Forgotten Days and those that like post-Forgotten Days.

Me? I’m pretty agnostic: I like all of their albums but given a choice, I’d take the first two albums with me to a desert island.

But the more I listen to Minds Burn Alive, the more it grows on me, the more I appreciate it. And that is always the sign of a classic album in the making.

I can definitely see fans of Pallbearer’s heavier era struggling with this album. They may find it too accessible, too focused on the vocals and not enough on the guitars.

But for anyone that likes music for music’s sake, there is so much to unpack in Minds Burn Alive. It isn’t instantly consumable; it requires that you listen with an open mind. It wants and demands multiple listenings.

Closing Thoughts

Any band worth its salt needs to challenge its own conventions. If it doesn’t, things get stale very quickly. Take the latest Metallica album, for instance—it’s so boringly obvious, so pedestrian, so unimaginative, that I’d rather listen to St. Anger on repeat for a week than sit through one sitting of 72 Seasons.

Pallbearer has not made this mistake. They’ve taken the concept of what the band stands for musically, its traditional approach to building its tonal palette, its approach to composition, and moved it into completely new and uncharted territory.

There’s more synth work, saxophone, and a real emphasis on building soundscapes that, when listened to in the right environment, allow you to get truly lost in the music.

Initially, I really wasn’t all that impressed by Minds Burn Alive. But after multiple listens, it has grown on me a lot. The songs are more complex compositionally and lean more towards prog elements than traditional doom/metal.

The more I listen, the more I appreciate what the band is trying to do. It isn’t an album of bangers or singles. Instead, it is an album designed to be experienced in its totality because the sum total is much greater than its individual parts.

Behind The Music

Pallbearer Minds Burn Alive Album Credits

The Band

  • Brett Campbell – Vocals, Guitar
  • Devin Holt – Guitar, Vocals
  • Mark Lierly – Drums, Percussion
  • Joseph D Rowland – Bass Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocalsand
  • Saxophone – Norman Williamson

Production

  • Produced by Pallbearer in Little Rock, AR
  • Recorded by Zach Reeves and Jason Weinheimer at Fellowship Hall Sound 
  • Additional recording by Devin Holt & Joseph D Rowland at Maple and Idlewood
  • Mixed by Mario Quintero at Audio MQ Headquarters (or audiomq.com)

Lyrics:

  • Brett Campbell – “Where The Light Fades”, “Signals”, “With Disease”
  • Joseph D. Rowland – “Mind Burns Alive”, “Daybreak”
  • Campbell & Rowland – “Endless Place”

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