Pallbearer @ The Rosemount Hotel
w/ Ohm Rune, Dirac Sea
Friday, June 30, 2017
Alex Nilsson-Faulds is one of the most imposing figures you’ll see on a stage in Perth. Even though his feet stay firmly planted in one place, the Dirac Sea frontman dominates the expanded Rosemount stage, uttering a mixture of banshee howls and guttural growls. His vocals are low in the mix, flanked by an oppressive two-guitar assault and a punishing rhythm section. It’s an exhausting musical experience – a 30-minute medley of overwhelming, downbeat meditations with little space to breathe between songs, like some kind of Lovecraft-inspired blackened doom – but it’s rewarding once we emerge on the other side, relatively unscathed.
If Dirac Sea were a marathon, consider stoner two-piece Ohm Rune to be a sprint. Alex Cotton (ex-Chainsaw Hookers) screams like a hyena in heat with the kind of ferocity that makes you worry what his vocal cords will look like in a decade. Moreover, he achieves more dynamic range with a 4-string bass than most guitarists achieve with 6. You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a third or fourth member somewhere off-stage, but no – it’s a clever mix of effects pedals and flawless rhythms between Cotton and drummer Justin Kukulka that make for one of the most energetic performances from a stoner act you’re likely to see.
The first thing to know about Pallbearer is that they’re loud. This shouldn’t come as a surprise – we’re talking about a doom metal band, after all. But the production across the band’s discography – especially their latest release, Heartless – is so slick that it’s a shock when these songs pack such a punch. The opening riff of Thorns – the shortest and most emphatic track from Heartless – lands with the weight of a ten-ton hammer. Brett Campbell’s vocals soar over the mountain of amplifiers stacked behind he and his bandmates, his guitar licks even sharper and more cutting than on record as Devin Holt’s low-end rhythm guitar snarls like a serpent.
The Arkansas quartet showed no signs of fatigue, having just arrived from the US some 8 hours before their set. Bassist/ backing vocalist Joseph D. Rowland was situated centre-stage, filling in the silence between songs with wholesome praise for the Dirac Sea and Ohm Rune, as well as immense gratitude that an audience on the other side of the world would receive their music with such enthusiasm.
They hammered through a packed 100-minute set, split evenly across their recorded output over the last 5 years. The Ghost I Used To Be from 2014’s Foundations of Burden – arguably their best known song – was a mammoth performance, the nuance and layers of its classical-like structure and sombre middle section proving even more visceral in the flesh than on record.
The strongest moments were the dynamism of the band’s later material – the powerful Fear and Fury from last year’s EP of the same name, the synth-heavy Dancing in Madness and the harmonies on Heartless’ title track. After an exhaustive hour and a half, they closed with Foreigner, the triumphant, slow-burning opener from 2012’s Sorrow and Extinction, offering a decisive book-end to a compelling Perth debut performance.
Photos by Ellie Dalziell