Release Date: Oct 23, 2020
Record label: Nuclear Blast
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Progressive Metal
Doom metal creeps. Half a century since Black Sabbath released Paranoid, arguably the form's ark of the covenant, most doom bands still sound somewhat like the original, each with assorted refinements. Yes, doom has occasionally splintered into smaller and slower sects, like the lugubrious "funeral doom" and glacial "drone metal." But consider the progress of hip-hop in roughly the same time frame: While hip-hop has created its own global ecosystem, teeming forever with wild new mutations, doom is a solitary old oak, steadily growing at its own oblivious clip.
Pallbearer were at a creative crossroads after 2017's Heartless. While the Arkansas quartet remained a psychedelic doom metal band in every sense of the word, their subsequent musical growth revealed aesthetic tension. The melodic sensibilities, prog indulgences, and production values so beautifully balanced on Sorrow and Extinction and Foundations of Burden suddenly threatened to dominate their music.
Just when it might've seemed like Pallbearer had begun to exhaust the limits of their doom-laden metal with 2017's Heartless, the Little Rock, Arkansas four-piece returns with their most inspired and emotionally charged. Grounded by themes of death and the passage of time, the band doesn't make any compromises to their no-frills, funereal noise, but they do enhance it. Produced by Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth), they strive to bring forward new ideas whenever it allows—whether they're accentuating subtle hooks or serving big, tectonic riffs to their technically proficient performances.
Little Rock's doom quartet has made the leap to metal powerhouse Nuclear Blast since their epic Heartless. That 2017 record was a major advance in the band's songwriting and arranging. But with Forgotten Days, the band don't so much extend the sprawling prog-laced epics of the previous album as blend them into tighter, more direct tunes that feel very appropriate for the moods of this long, fractious year: at times ornery, restless and deeply sorrowful.