"Foundations of Burden" takes Pallbearer's brand of melodic doom a step further with better production, better vocals, and overall better songs. This is an album brimming with atmosphere and emotion, yet at the same time it's absolutely crushing. Some negative reviews I've come across of this album deem the music "doom-lite," a claim I don't find any merit in.
Right from the get-go on the first track "Worlds Apart" Pallbearer are channeling such venerated doom bands as Katatonia, Warning, Paradise Lost, and Candlemass. The riffs are monstrous and thick, and the melodies are mournful and utterly captivating.
That said, it can be hard to connect with the songs as a whole given their length, relative sameyness complexity. The only real moment of diversity on the album is the gorgeous piano-driven interlude "Ashes." But diversity isn't something Pallbearer is, or necessarily should be, interested in. It's clear they want to tell a musical story in their own distinctive style without conforming to outside pressure. Therefore, those hoping for a significant change from the debut album will be disappointed. All they've really done here is to improve their already excellent craft.
"Foundations of Burden" takes you on a journey through vast, exotic landscapes but it's fairly easy to get lost along the way if you're not patient in dealing with the twists and turns. In other words, this is an album that requires multiple listens to gain a "bigger picture" view. Nevertheless, I'm very pleased with this record and consider it one of the year's best in the doom department.