In this house we respect Pallbearer. Pallbearer is one of our favorite bands that we have enjoyed since their debut. When we saw that the Nine Circles inbox was blessed with the latest from the band, Forgotten Days, we decided to co-author a review instead of fighting each other to the death for who would do the honor. We decided to sit down and listen to the album and write this review together as a singular cohesive piece.
We have been lucky enough to see Pallbearer perform live more times than we can count having never missed an opportunity to see them when they come in/around our neck of the woods, Chicago. The band always puts on an amazing show, something that usually goes beyond what you hear on the album. On Forgotten Days, Pallbearer’s aim was to capture the spirit of what they do live. Vocalist/guitarist Brett Campbell stated, “I wanted to capture the immediacy and what the songs feel like when they’re performed live.” Bassist and co-songwriter Joe Rowland also felt that the songs should be geared towards what can be played live and what an audience would enjoy. This definitely shines through on the album. Campbell’s vocals are stronger and more honest on Forgotten Days than any other Pallbearer album. The production here is very clean and more defined than earlier albums from the band. The individual pieces pop more, especially with the heavier emphasis on synthesizer played by Campbell and Rowland. There is a lot more texture in the songs because of the synthesizer and distinct sounds.
The opening riff in “Forgotten Days” caused Ian to make a very interesting face like he just popped three WARHEADS in his mouth. The opening immediately reminded us of Sorrow and Extinction because of the slower pace and more crushing doom feel. However, the more melody-driven passages and soaring vocals in the next song “Riverbed” gave off distinct Heartless vibes. Moving through Forgotten Days, we felt strong pangs of previous albums and feel this record sounds like the best parts of all the albums the band previously released combined. It feels like a retrospective of their career up to this point in time. Pallbearer has always been great about throwing little stings in between the riffs—making everything pop and adding to their unique sound. We especially enjoyed the riffs in “The Quicksand of Existing” which had us immediately head banging in sync. This track also features a very zesty guitar solo that had us both in awe and even had our dog perk her ears up.
In addition to the more straight forward doom cuts, the band also included room for experimentation and atmosphere. Forgotten Days features strong moments of psychedelic/groovy/funky vibes displayed throughout. This is especially heard on the epic, 12-minute long track “Silver Wings.” Also heard in several tracks, especially present in “Silver Wings” and “Caledoina,” are more mournful/sorrow-filled vocals. Campbell and Rowland have both experienced loss, heartache, and suffering in their family lives which contributed to the writing of the album. There is a strong theme of family throughout which is also reflected in the album’s cover art, a painting by Michael Lierly (brother of Pallbearer drummer Mark Lierly).
Needless to say, we both adore this album and this band. Ian feels that Pallbearer always comes through with a new release at times when he most needs it. Angela has used Pallbearer lyrics to inspire some of her artwork. This band is just always there for us. Forgotten Days seems to be both a look back at everything that has brought the band success as well as a way for them to look forward in their career, the trajectory of which only ever seems to go up. We have really missed seeing Pallbearer live and hope to see them tour featuring Forgotten Days as soon as possible because these songs deserve to be heard in the setting in which they shine.
– Angela and Ian