Abby Luddy-Dunn, Contributor
Bar Le Ritz is small and intimate, and from the outside at night PDB would be almost indistinguishable from its surroundings aside from the music emanating down the block and the crowd of people outside. The stage area is small, surrounded by eclectic decorative strips of primary colors linking into each other into a mosaic pattern. Due to an unexpected turn of events, I arrived halfway through Kayo Dot’s set and missed Bask (the first opener) completely, much to my regret. Although I am unable to write about them in this review, I would highly recommend you to check out their bandcamp listed at the end of this article, to show support.
Kayo Dot hail from Brooklyn NY, and to quote from their bandcamp, are a “progressive rock, avant-goth, weird metal, undefinable band” —a label which seems accurate, if a little confusing. Before the show I was entirely unfamiliar with them, but their unique sound reminded me of a combination of a variety of different artists, such as Nine Inch Nails, Katatonia, Paradise Lost, Christian Death, and even at times My Bloody Valentine and Bauhaus. With a mix of unique instrumentation and psychedelic and progressive elements, Kayo Dot’s sound is truly dynamic and compelling. Since the show has ended I’ve found myself unable to stop listening to “Mortality of Doves” from Kayo Dot’s 2014 album Coffins on Io, which was a standout track of their set. I would highly recommend Kayo Dot to anyone unafraid to listen to something described as “undefinable”, or fans of any of the aforementioned bands.
The show’s headliner, Pallbearer, hails from Little Rock AR. Although it’s not the first scene that comes to mind when one thinks of metal, it must be a good one to produce a band like Pallbearer. In a time where so many doom metal bands have similar sounds and themes to the point where many are almost indistinguishable, Pallbearer are one of the best current bands for the specific style they’ve cultivated. They have created something that is melancholic and relentlessly heavy. Pallbearer played a colossal hour and a half set, opening with “Thorns” from their most recent album, but played material from all three of their albums. Their stage presence was forceful and captivating, and while doom metal isn’t something that one necessarily needs to be able to see to enjoy, the audience was silent and seemingly transfixed during their set by the crushing sound and the dynamism of the artists. The contrast of Brett Campbell’s haunting vocals with Joseph Rowland’s crushing bass created a truly mesmerizing effect as a duo on stage, especially with Rowland offering his bass to the audience to touch and play at two points in the show.
Indeed, I would argue that Pallbearer are an even better band live than in recording. In the past, I have found myself on occasion uninterested by certain tracks of theirs, in particular those on Foundations of Burden, but the show served to solidify their musical excellence, indeed I would say it was the best show I’ve attended in the past year, metal or not. Highlights of their set included “The Ghost I Used to Be”, and “Thorns” from their most recent album. The band ended the show with a colossal rendition of “Foreigner,” the first track of their first album, the one that instantly hooked me when I first listened several years ago. I would fully recommend Pallbearer to any metal fan, in particular to fans of Bell Witch and Elder. They’re well worth your time.
Catch up with the bands online at pallbearerdoom.com, kayodot.bandcamp.com/music, and basknc.bandcamp.com