To celebrate the release of their latest album, Heartless, American progressive doom outfit PALLBEARER have embarked on a tour alongside PINKISH BLACK. With Heartless receiving strong praise across the board, their live performance had quite the bar to jump over. We caught their show at The Ruby Lounge in Manchester to see how they both got on.
Comprising of two musicians, drummer Jon Teague and vocalist Daron Beck (who also operates the synth), PINKISH BLACK was a pleasant yet mournful warm-up to PALLBEARER. With similar, doom-inspired sounds with more of an electronica feel to them in places, and Daron’s haunting vocals, it made for an interesting watch. Jon was incredibly energetic at times, almost losing pace but quickly correcting himself. Building into a heavier sound progressively through their set, PINKISH BLACK proved to be almost entrancing, with Daron taking charge over all instruments via keyboard and synth to create an experimental concoction that works surprisingly well. It must be said that Daron’s vocals are what made PINKISH BLACK truly stand out.
Twisting elements of industrial and electronic into doom may sound like a weird combination, but PINKISH BLACK make it their own with material off their latest album, Bottom of the Morning. The use of minimal lighting, aside from a light casting over Daron and a heavy mix of magenta and blue, made their set all the more immersive. As far as engaging with the audience went, however, the due lacked slightly which detracted from the experience. That said, strong and solid performances from both members of PINKISH BLACK got the crowd adequately pumped up for PALLBEARER.
This quartet from Little Rock, Arkansas have come a long way in metal over the years. Their sound is constantly and remarkably developing over the course of their discography, and so they had a great mix of songs to choose from for the setlist. Despite a number of technical issues to begin with, this didn’t faze the band in the slightest and instead joked about it on stage.
Playing material off their latest record, Heartless, went down amazingly. A Plea for Understanding is an emotionally pulling track on its own, yet this seemed amplified in a live setting, with emotion pouring off Brett with every note he hit. As he pours out “I just want to give to you all that you have given me” he doesn’t do it alone as half the crowd explode into singing along with him. Crushing riffs and backing guitar from Brett and Devin Holt shook the floor, paired alongside Joseph’s frantic bass work and almost dominating stage presence, which made their set quite powerful. These moments were amplified when PALLBEARER’s tracks picked up the pace, such as in I Saw the End. The use of mist and deep, blue lighting created an awesome atmosphere, although this was only happening on Devin’s side. This effect would have been better had the mist also hit Brett, but this is a very minor criticism and didn’t really hinder the band’s performance in the slightest.
Despite their focus on material from Heartless, tracks off their previous records, Foundations of Burden and Sorrow and Extinction, were received with screams and incredible excitement from the crowd. The intro to The Ghost I Used to Be hit the crowd with a wave of emotion from Brett and Devin Holt’s guitars, brought the crowd to a standstill before their signature gargantuan riffs blasted everyone back into the groove. Drummer Mark Lierly was on form, delivering heart-thumping beats for Thorns and Worlds Apart. Devin executed solos with ease, especially on the title track, Heartless. Heartless’ tear-inducing climax was executed phenomenally by all members of the band.
Marking two years since PALLBEARER played tour dates in Canada without Joseph, back-up bassist Hamish Glencross came onto the stage for the final song of the evening, Devoid of Redemption. An incredibly powerful ending to the night, with Joseph returning towards the end to provide backing vocals. The band were incredibly humble too, thanking the audience at every point and interacting in between songs, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. Previous questions regarding how applicable PALLBEARER’s music is in a live format can be completely crushed by witnessing them in the flesh. The intimate nature of the show along with the venue, and how well the band performed, has helped to cement PALLBEARER’s standing as one of the strongest bands to come out of the doom scene thus far.
Check out our photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester from Occult Photography: