Album Review: Pallbearer – Mind Burns Alive

Album Review: Pallbearer – Mind Burns Alive

Album Review: Pallbearer – Mind Burns Alive
Reviewed by Matthew Williams

I have to admit that after my first listen to Pallbearer’s latest album, I was left a bit down in the dumps and was struggling to know what to write. It was an album that just didn’t grab me in any way at all, as I found it a bit lifeless compared to their previous albums. 'Mind Burns Alive' just didn’t have anything that really stood out and grabbed my attention like the excellent 'Love You to Death' but after the second and third listening, it all somehow just started to click into place in my mind.

Their fifth full length album is a heartfelt meditation on isolation, trauma and mental breakdown, framed by the possibility of redemption and the quiet, aching beauty of escape. What the band have done is stripped back the music and lyrics to the bare bones and delivered six songs where you can sense the vulnerability and loneliness, with the vocals from Joseph D Rowland and Brett Campbell full of emotion and depth and soul searching lyrics that will leave you contemplating life.

It begins with 'Where the Light Fades' which is a melodic song, heartfelt and emotional with the vocals from Brett Campbell being all mournful, where you start to discover that they aren’t going to bludgeon you with noise, which is probably why I struggled with it on my first listen. This is followed by the title track 'Mind Burns Alive' which deals around the issue of mental deterioration. The vocals from Campbell are tender with a sinister overtone, describing a man on a doomed personal crusade, with lyrics such as “My mind has ignited, I can feel it burning it down”.

Album Review: Pallbearer – Mind Burns Alive

'Signals' feels more subdued and atmospheric, and has prolonged moments of quietness, almost to the point of discomfort and wondering if the song has actually finished or not! It’s almost eight minutes long, and is an incredibly powerful song based around someone in the throes of self-destruction. They still manage to deliver some heaviness in the music, with a sumptuous bassline, and is the stand out track on the album.

'Endless Place' has an acoustic opening combined with a synth before it develops into more of a doom track. Guitarist Devin Hoilt brings the melody out to the front and then we hear something truly beautiful, as the spotlight passes over to Norman Williamson who performs a mesmeric saxophone solo which works in tandem with the drumming of Mark Lierly before the song comes an almighty crushing ending.

The penultimate track 'Daybreak' finds the band at their most meditative and sparse. It tells a lonesome tale of acceptance as emotional salvation, “On the day I break, Just sweep the pieces al away, And let them scatter, I don’t need an after” This is as stripped down as you get, with the drumming being metronomic yet gentle before it shows a bit of grit and steel in the middle section.

They don’t mess about on the final track, as 'With Disease' is amongst the heaviest songs they’ve ever done. The vocals are more visceral and the lyrics are more ominous, delivered in seething tones by Campbell "Lives filled with empty pursuits, A fate that keeps us on our knees, My mind is empty too, Fill it up with disease” it gives you an insight into the bands thinking around the time of a global pandemic.

This album will shock people, and like me I suspect, it will take a few listens to get into, but when you do, you’ll find that it’s an incredible album.

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