Pallbearer’s Brett Campbell names his top 10 albums of 2020
As you'd expect from a subgenre with an abbreviation for "traditional" in the name, trad-doom is not an easy genre to break ground in, but Pallbearer have become one of the rare bands to do it. They recall the classics, but they always manage to make it their own, and Forgotten Days finds them doing what they do best. Brett Campbell's vocals still sound like Ozzy Osbourne and Geddy Lee in a blender, the band's riffs still worship at the altars of Sabbath and Candlemass, and Pallbearer still dabble in atmospheric prog passages that tip their hat at Pink Floyd. For some bands, employing the same tricks four albums in would start to get old, but Forgotten Days is as compelling as just about anything this band has done previously. It's one of their most immediate albums; following 2017's proggy Heartless, Forgotten Days is more straight-up metal and more direct. It's also one of their best sounding albums, thanks to the great producer Randall Dunn, who's worked with everyone from Sunn O))) to Earth to Marissa Nadler to Cloud Nothings and tons of others.
Little Rock, AR doom metallers Pallbearer released their great fourth album (and first for Nuclear Blast) Forgotten Days this year (that's an excerpt of our review above). It's an album that's already cracking some year-end lists, so we asked the band what albums they liked most this year, and guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell made us a list of his top 10.
Brett's diverse, multi-genre list includes albums by Autechre, Black Curse, Ulcerate, Unwed Soldier, and more, and he provided commentary on each pick. Read what he had to say below.
Brett also recently appeared, alongside members of Old Man Gloom, High on Fire, and Lo-Pan, on a recent edition of Two Minutes to Late Night's quarantine cover series to collaborate on a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Emerald." Watch that and the video for Pallbearer's "Rite of Passage" below.
BRETT CAMPBELL'S (PALLBEARER) FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2020
Autechre - PLUS
Dark and jarring in places, strange and beautiful in others, PLUS somewhat feels like the best elements of 2018’s 8-hour-long NTS Sessions assembled into something more digestible for mere organics. A must for fans of forward-thinking electronic music.
Autechre - SIGN
Yes, I'm putting both new Autechre albums on here. SIGN starts off noisy, dissonant and difficult - a jarring assault of clangorous sounds seemingly devoid of traditional rhythm. However, throughout the album, the music sneakily transforms into something melodic, if not catchy. By the end, the chaos of the beginning has given way to waves of dreamy chords. If Autechre lost you after the first few releases, give this one a try. It's a journey worth taking.
Feels like something from the late '80s/early '90s without sounding like any one band in particular. Nonstop raw, evil riffs, noisy solos, and disgusting, doomy breakdowns. Sick bare-bones metal that feels old school without being too derivative.
Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore - Patchouli Blue
A slow-motion fall into darkness never sounded so gorgeous. Patchouli Blue resides among Black Earth and Delores as Bohren's best work. Moody but glistening, Patchouli Blue is ideal music for the approaching winter.
Drown - Subaqueous
This funeral doom album captures all the weight and mystery of the oceanic depths. Not as glacially slow as some in its genre, Drown instead focuses on expansive melodies and riffs, drenched in watery effects, which serve to enhance the dense atmosphere.
Igorrr - Spirituality and Distortion
Combining breakcore, death metal, glitch, opera, and middle eastern instruments, Spirituality and Distortion manages to be coherent despite its disparate influences. At the very least, it makes for a fascinating and unpredictable listen. It can be funny, bizarre, epic, and heavy as fuck, often all within the same song. If the blue alien woman from the Fifth Element started a death metal band with Venetian Snares, it might sound something like this. Get on the level.
This band reformed after Brian Eno praised one of their songs in an interview, and I checked them out for the same reason. I'm glad I did. Minimalistic songwriting is peppered with dystopian synths, horns, and woodwinds, creating a melancholic, but lush, listening experience.
Golden Retriever & Chuck Johnson - Rain Shadow
From evolving drones, to massive clusters of sound, this album can sound joyous or melancholy depending on your mood. This trio of guitar, modular synth, and bass clarinet has provided the soundtrack to many quiet afternoons this year.
Dizzying blasts of mutating dissonance are punctuated by pitch-black clean interludes. This is not a vision of death as a release from struggles, but a portrayal of the absolute manifestation of the chaos, fear, and despair inherent in mortal existence.
Despite being a somewhat gothy take on the distinctive Unwed Sailor sound, this album still manages to feel warm and friendly. Simple, memorable melodies draw the listener into varied textures throughout. In some places, it reminds me of early The Cure, in others, Michael Rother, but the various influences are expertly incorporated into the sonic palette of the latest iteration of this consistently great band.