PALLBEARER Not pictured: a pall.
Mark Dawursk

PALLBEARER takes things slowly. For a band uninterested in anything uptempo and whose shortest song is a little less than six minutes, the Little Rock, Arkansas, doom metal troupe felt no rush in writing the follow-up to their massive first full-length, Sorrow and Extinction. After two years of songwriting, Pallbearer will spend most of February at Portland's Type Foundry studio to put album two to tape.

They've arrived here on the recommendation of the album-to-be's engineer, Billy Anderson, who's sat behind the board for bands like the Melvins, Neurosis, and Sleep. "The first time around was way less a formal recording session," bassist Joseph Rowland says of the sessions for Sorrow. "We'd just go record as we had time. It was almost half the time just hanging out and just getting things done as we could. It was definitely not as straightforward as this time will be."

In 2010, the band released a demo that generated enough buzz to land them on the mighty Profound Lore Records, and when Sorrow and Extinction came out two years later, it felt like an instant classic, full of crushing riffs but with more melodic movement than you'd hear in most doom bands. And while the songs were epic in scope, nothing felt stretched. Rowland stresses that the band's lengthy self-editing process includes axing anything that whiffs of filler.

That might sound odd coming from a band whose debut album is five songs that run nearly 50 minutes (its vinyl release takes up two LPs). Rowland says the plan going into making the six-song follow-up was to keep it to one record. "The way the material ended up, it's still going to have to end up across two LPs this time, too," he laughs. "I think considering the fact that it's more songs this time, it's not as much of a disappointment. I'm happy with the way the songs have turned out. I don't think there's any filler this time either."

The still-untitled record is slated for release sometime in August, and it'll be their first with new drummer Mark Lierly. "It's definitely going to be way more of a drum-centric record than Sorrow and Extinction was," says Rowland. "In a lot of ways, the complexity of the songwriting, including the writing and the performance of the drums on the new one, has ramped up considerably."

But the melodies that made Sorrow move aren't going anywhere. "That's something that factors heavily into what I feel is our signature sound. I can't imagine really ever abandoning that."