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(Live Review) PALL BEARER + SUPPORT - Reggies, Chicago (6/11/23)

By The Beard & Little Johnny


Tonight, on an unseasonably cold and rainy June evening, (simply perfect for doom metal), your Bearded Bard and his first mate “Little Johnny” stand outside Reggie’s Rockhouse (on the south side of Chicago) prepared to begin stop #26 and bands #123-125 on “The Reviews Never Stop Tour 2023.”


This evening’s bill brings us the dark doom stylings of:

Pallbearer

Huntsmen

Baron Heir




Our first stop, upon entering the venue, was the merchandise booth where both a Pallbearer shirt and CD were procured. Little Johnny also attempted to procure the telephone number of the lovely lady selling the merchandise for Pallbearer, but to no avail. “A smile is all you’re getting tonight little dude.” Next, for The Beard, it was upstairs to grab one of only eight chairs in the venue. Johnny is going stage front even though I assured him the only pits he is likely to see tonight are the ones they set the casket in at graveside. Still, the little imp does enjoy his close-up experience.


First up tonight, was.


BARON HEIR

Baron Heir are power doom in the styling of Conan, but at a far more basic level. The guitar work wasn’t bad, and the bassist/vocalist was an effective screamer in that indistinguishable style that says, “You may not know what I am singing about, but you damn sure know I mean it.”



Baron Heir was fine, but they seem to need more work and polish. This is the type of band the Beard expects to see a lot of in a few weeks at the East Coast Maryland Doomfest.


For tonight’s set, Baron Heir gets 74/100


Next up are some of Chicago’s own doom metal ...

HUNTSMEN

A five-piece group with both female & male vocals. They purposely used only three giant orange backing lights rendering the band itself completely dark to the viewer. While I certainly get “ambiance” (and perhaps even a “hunters moon” tie into their show), for me it is still a loss of points. You are a band, and with respect to that old adage “it’s all about the music.,” it is also about letting me actually see you perform it. If I wanted to only hear it, I could just buy the CD.


As far as the musicality of Huntsmen is concerned, to me it was more like the nature/black metal style of a Sylvaine than anything resembling doom. I am familiar with this style and have actually come to enjoy it when it is done well, but it still takes some time to immerse oneself into it.



Female vocalist, Amiee Bueno was of medium vocal strength and sometimes got overwhelmed by the sonic aspect of the songs. Again, there is a point to the gentle style of this yin/yang sub-genre, but when the song does go explosive, the vocals shouldn’t get washed out. Chris Kang (guitar) and Marc Stranger-Naijar (bass) could crank the volume up on their more sludge/post metal styled voices, but Bueno did not seem able to and when the songs got that loud and powerful it was as if a blanket was thrown over her voice which was a shame because on the gentler side it was clear and had a dreamy quality to it which worked with these songs.


The Beard felt both aspects fell a bit short. The gentle nature aspect was not quite metal enough, and then the screaming pounding metal part lost the female vocals. Add in the, (my opinion only), unfortunate lighting choice and I could not go higher than 75/100



Tonight’s headliners are possibly one of the greatest doom acts to ever come out of Little Rock Arkansas...

PALLBEARER

Formed in 2008, (back when the bottom dropped out of the economy and everybody who had money in the system was worried about their next month’s payments. Definitely an opportunity for a band like Pallbearer to emerge) and rolling steadily since then, Pallbearer have released four albums including 2020’s Forgotten Days and are prepared to drop a fifth on us very soon.


What Pallbearer brings that makes them so good is emotive emotional resonance. You don’t just hear a song, you feel it. A song like “The Ghost I Used to Be” worms inside and by the end of its over ten-minute length has exacted an emotional toll on you.


Brett Campell provides simply one of the best voices to project melancholia that is out there in doom metal right now and Devin Holts guitar work (with his hair flying) is hypnotic in its passionate energy, while the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Joseph Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly hold the pocket tightly and never let it go.



Pallbearer music makes you feel sorrow yet applaud the workmanship in producing it. It’s Beethoven or Mozart but using doom metal to convey it. Like the musical equivalent of painting a masterpiece using street art. The twelve-and-a-half-minute "Foreigner" from Sorrow & Extinction leaves the listener draped in a cold and wet blanket of abject sadness while still wanting to clap loudly after its completion.


Johnny, after listening to the closing epic “Worlds Apart,” said, “That band was good but they kind of make me sad. I feel like maybe I should be buying all of THEM a beer.” Lol “it’s all good little dude. That’s just what they do and that you feel like that watching them is exactly why they are so damn good at it.”


In 2017, at Thalia Hall, Pallbearer gave one of that year’s best performances. Here at Reggie’s, the room is a little worse for shows ... the sound is inferior and the lighting is significantly worse for the visuals. So, tonight’s show gets all the points of a superior performance, (minus just a little bit of guitar technical issues mid set) but suffered from a room that just did not afford them all the majesty their musical act required. A caged bird can only fly so high, and a band such as Pallbearer deserves no imposed ceiling. A sterling set by a most evocative band.

93/100


This end’s another night and another show. When next you hear from us, we shall have journeyed halfway across the country for the yearly four-day Maryland Doom Festival.


Until then, keep reading us every Wednesday and Thursday on The Mighty Decibel, Heavy Metal Canada, Psychofest Las Vegas, and all our other sites. Then check out all the live videos on TikTok at.

thebeard0728


Until we review again ...

Stay heavy

And

Horns Up!!!

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