Here are the best melodic guitarists in doom metal, chosen by Pallbearer's Joseph Rowland.

What You Need to Know About Pallbearer

From: Little Rock, Arkansas

First Album: Sorrow and Extinction (2012)

New Album: Mind Burns Alive (2024)

Pallbearer have been around long enough now that they're not just mentioned among doom metal's brightest modern bands, but truly one of the genre's all-time best.

Their debut album, Sorrow and Extinction, was not merely promising or showcasing potential, it immediately asserted Pallbearer to the front of the pack. While their riffs are plentiful — it's a hallmark of doom — this group worships at a different altar within the genre. There's been a consistent vision since day one, all bound by aching melodies.

With their fifth album, Mind Burns Alive, there's a subtly fresh feeling of melodic intent, expressive as ever and always one note away from breaking your heart entirely.

Pallbearer, "Where the Light Fades"

Of course, Pallbearer aren't the only melodic merchants of doom, so we had get some recommendations straight from the source. Bassist Joseph Rowland was actually up for the task, having a lot to say about some of these specialized guitarists as he, too, is a guitarist (just in the studio). He'll explain more in just a bit.

Mind Burns Alive is out May 17 on Nuclear Blast. Head here to get your copy and follow Pallbearer on Instagram, Facebook and X (formerly Twitter). Catch the band on tour this year and check out all the dates at the Pallbearer website.


Doom metal band Pallbearer in the woods
Dan Almasy

Some may not know that while I handle the low end duties in the live setting for Pallbearer, I write my share of our output on guitar, often not approaching the subsonic domain until later in the birthing process of our songs.

Melody is often king within our microcosm and here are a handful of guitarists that I dub “doom metal’s most melodic," which, in reality, simply constitute some of the biggest influences on my playing throughout the years.

This list is far from exhaustive, and I’ve even chosen to omit some players who fit the bill of “melodic” but haven’t reached as deeply into my psyche as a player and songwriter.

Chuck Schaaf & Alan Wells (Deadbird)

Chuck and Alan have the gift of finding the perfect harmonized intervals in countless riffs, a trait that exists throughout their catalog as a sort of sonic signature. This facet of their musicianship is a source of constant inspiration, and perhaps even the greatest singular influence on my own playing.

Deadbird, "Into the Clearing"

Brian Spinks & Renata Castagna (Samothrace)

With a style occupying a place somewhere between riff and tectonic shift, Brian and Renata seem to wrench their sometimes minutes-long melodies as a form of extraction, pulling every bit of sustain and grit from their instruments and amplifiers to clad their longform songs with a windswept emotion.

Samothrace, "When We Emerged"

Steve Mills (The Wounded Kings)

The sprightly and obscure sensibility of Steve Mills’ simple lead lines woven into the toothy
rhythms imbues a very keen sense of fog-enshrouded dread, particularly in the criminally
underrated early Wounded Kings material.

The Wounded Kings, "The Private Labyrinth"

Hamish Glencross (Godthrymm, formerly Solstice, My Dying Bride)

Across multiple projects, Hamish has always had a marvelous ability to bring a pulverizing
rhythmic sensibility augmented by potent and unexpected harmonies. There’s always been an element in his playing that reads as regal to my ear, as if he’s secretly an ageless forgotten monarch, crafting his guitar epics since the dark ages.

Godthrymm, "As Titans"

John Gossard & Geoff Evans (Asunder)

The twin guitars in Asunder always seemed to convey something apocalyptic, a thunderous and elegiac wall of sound that is by definition downcast, as if lamenting a world that’s reached its culmination.

Tim Lewis & Mike Meacham (Loss)

At times closer to Pärt or Ligeti than Paradise Lost, the intertwined funereal melodies of Loss’ guitarists exist in their own instantly recognizable echelon, and perhaps some of the most genuinely depressive guitar lines ever committed to tape.

Loss, "All Grows on Tears"

Damon Good & Justin Hartwig (Mournful Congregation)

The dual (and sometimes triple) guitar configuration spearheaded by these two joins cosmic-ly slow and obliterating melodic rhythms with a laser-beam of virtuosic, nearly shred-like solos that form an incomprehensibly destructive force, like a transmission beamed directly from elder gods who feed on despair.

Mournful Congregation, "The Waterless Streams:

Jeff Morgan (Rwake)

Much like myself, Jeff doesn’t play guitar live (apart from a brief stint performing acoustic guitar from behind the drum kit during a particularly epic deep cut) but it’s my understanding that he is largely the mastermind behind Rwake’s singular style of arpeggio-heavy melodic lines and counterpoint, not unlike an alternate-dimension crushingly evil version of Yes (No?)

Rwake, "Crooked Rivers"

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