Devoid Of Redemption: Pallbearer live in Kansas City 12/16/14
It’s a challenging thing to mix the sound for a heavy metal show. If something is too loud, it overpowers the rest of the instruments and becomes the unnecessary focal point of the show – if something is too low, it takes away from the most important element of the sound: the heaviness. Even tougher is getting the sound perfect for three bands of differing sonic wavelengths of heaviess. However, the sound system of the Riot Room in Kansas City proved up to the challenge of handling the crunchy heavy sludge/black metal of Mortals, the windswept soundscapes of Iceland’s Solstafir, and the brain-shattering doom heaviness of Pallbearer.
First up was Mortals, a trio that played a hybrid of doom and black metal. They didn’t necessarily combine the two genres, but rather they switched styles back and forth in the songs and created unprecedented heaviness for an opening band. The bass was especially heavy and was accentuated by Leslie Wolf’s shrieking vocals that fit the music perfectly. One of the most impressive opening sets I’ve seen in a long time.
Solstafir started out as a viking/black metal act out of Iceland, but as of lately they’ve fully embraced the post-rock/metal sound. Upon the first chords of their opener “Ljós í Stormi,” I thought to myself, “The easiest way to describe their sound is Sigur Ros playing metal.” But it’s really so much more than that. The viking themes are still present in their music, but the soundscapes are larger and much more beautiful. At times, it was honestly jaw-dropping how beautiful they can make this kind of music. With an enigmatic frontman, a cowboy hat-wearing guitarist that also plays banjo and most songs sung entirely in Icelandic – Solstafir is an anomaly that just works.
The crowd was at it’s thickest for Pallbearer, and for good reason – the band’s latest album “Foundations of Burden” shook up the metal world. It topped year end lists of everyone from Decibel Magazine and Pitchfork to Rolling Stone. Their new-found popularity filled the Riot Room on a freezing Tuesday night in Kansas City, so they must be pretty good. From the first note of the first song to the last ringing outro of the encore, Pallbearer performed some of the thickest, slowest, crushing doom metal available today. Contrasting to their unbelievably heavy music, guitarist Brett Campbell’s piercingly clear vocals provided something that worked so well it caused people to sing and headbang along whenever he started singing. Lots of headbanging took place during their over 90 minute set, but it almost seemed like most of the crowd gave a better reception to the new songs instead of the old songs – a first for me experiencing that.
The crowd stayed thick until Pallbearer finished their encore, and I’m sure there were plenty of sore necks and ringing ears the day after. This was a bill of three bands playing different genres of music that gelled incredibly well together due to one overarching quality – THE HEAVY.
1. Worlds Apart
2. Devoid of Redemption
3. The Ghost I Used To Be
4. The Legend
6. Watcher In The Dark
1. Ljós í Stormi
3. Svartir Sandar
5. Goddess of the Ages