Pallbearer, Royal Thunder | Beat Kitchen | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Pallbearer, Royal Thunder 

When: Fri., Sept. 14, 9:30 p.m. 2012
Price: $12
The constellation of doom metal seems to have two main centers of gravity around which bands cluster: midnight blue post-Sabbath rock with a druggy, syrupy swing, like a Budgie 45 played at 33 rpm, and monumental, tectonically slow processionals, where the mood is blackly bleak and each note arrives with the force of an iceberg calving from a glacier. (I realize I'm generalizing irresponsibly here, and as is so often the case, I don't care.) Both flavors are great, but I'd also be happy to see Arkansas four-piece Pallbearer become the nucleus of their own subgenre. Their debut full-length, this year's Sorrow and Extinction (Profound Lore), feels like crossing the taiga on horseback: lonely and exalting, incomprehensibly vast and devastatingly beautiful, driven by the stubborn rhythms of the body rather than by the hope of a destination. (Under "influences" on Facebook the band lists only "The Primal.") The riffs are satisfyingly thick, hooky, and sophisticated, with layers of melody and countermelody moving past one another in solemn, stately dances, but they follow paths too long and serpentine to really count as catchy. The same goes for the vocals, by guitarist Brett Campbell: with his clean, mournful tenor, which falls somewhere between Ozzy and 40 Watt Sun's Patrick Walker, he slings phrases that stick quivering in your brain like icy spears, but this is hardly sing-along material. Like an ancient and arcane ritual, it demands you surrender to it body and mind in order to feel its power. —Philip Montoro Royal Thunder opens.

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