DOOM DARLINGS SCALE NEW HEIGHTS AND HEARTFELT LOWS
PALLBEARER HAD A remarkable 2017 with a wide range of metal and, crucially, non-metal outlets proclaiming their LP Heartless to be one of the best of the year. With so much goodwill being thrust their way, you can forgive the fact they were originally booked to play Islington Assembly Hall. It’s with a slightly heavy heart that we find ourselves in the Underworld instead this evening, a venue almost half the size, but it is to their eternal credit, then, that Pallbearer appear completely unfazed, infusing the room with a celebratory air that is immediately infectious.
Before that triumphant showing, however, we’re treated to the unexpected aural thrill of stoner black metallers TUSKAR . The two-piece employ a fantastic use of dynamics that recall the more sludge-encrusted cuts from Mastodon’s Remission. Drummer Tyler Hodges does a remarkable job of laying down furious grooves and powerful earthy vocals simultaneously, and with little to distract you from the almighty riffs guitarist
Tom Dimmock peels out from his six strings, the power of their sound hits with extraordinary potency. It can be tough for duos to sustain interest over a period of time but for 30 minutes tonight, we are in the palm of Tuskar’s hands.
PALLBEARER  begin with the punishingly heavy grooves of Watcher In The Dark, which pretty much sets out the stall for the rest of the evening: hazy, heady, heavy grooves that paradoxically soothe and bludgeon with equal force. The setlist is weighted pretty equally across the band’s three albums but it’s Thorns and Dancing With Madness, the two cuts taken from
Heartless, that showcase their greatest strengths.
The latter in particular marries punishing, detuned riffs with psych-infused, blissed-out passages that show hints of the early Metallica material that was blessed by Cliff Burton’s hand. Pallbearer enchant their audience into a hypnotic stupor, a vortex where time is manipulated, making 10-minute epics fly by in what appears to be half the time. They’re clearly as stoked to be here as we are to see them, a fact reinforced by the crowd’s cry of “One more song” come the set’s end.
They duly oblige with that rarest of things, a genuine encore and we are treated to a blistering rendition of Devoid Of Redemption. Next time Pallbearer come to these shores, let’s hope that they get another shot at playing Islington’s famed town hall. On this form, they sure as hell deserve it.
Tuskar’s Tom Dimmock provesto be a mighty riff wizard Pallbearer’s Joseph D Rowland addssome bludgeon to the foreboding