Review Summary: Well-produced and catchy enough without seeming gimmicky. Electronicore done right(er).
Ever heard of the band, "Marilyn Is Dead"? You probably haven’t. And if you have, you would’ve remembered a rather generic electronicore band. You would’ve labeled "Marilyn Is Dead" as mostly garbage, not worth your time.
Well guess what?
"Palisades" is "Marilyn Is Dead".
This 6-piece band hailing from New Jersey has transformed itself, from a mere drop of water in the muddy pond of “core” music, into something worth attention. Oh, the breakdowns are still there (there might be less of them), but this band has progressed massively since their days as a trashy little scene-core band. The first time I listened through "I'm Not Dying Today," I did not like it. It seemed boring, bland, nothing I haven’t listened to before. However, I go by a multiple-listen policy, meaning that I give albums a few spins before I feed them to my grandmother.
Good thing, too, because the second time through, I was shocked. “Hey,” I thought, “these guys might have something here.” I noticed the second time around that this little 5-song EP deserves a chance to shine.
"Palisades" turns out to be a solid, heavily punk-influenced band that seems to be performing catchy punk-rock songs with post-hardcore instrumentation and electronica influences.
After listening to this, it is clear that the most impressive this band has to offer is its vocal arsenal. Frontman Louis Miceli truly delivers spectacular songwriting and solid execution, and while his vocals are somewhat hit-or-miss (critics will attack his vocals as “whiny”), they become the staple of the album. He is the jewel in the crown. Miceli’s songwriting is superb, as he seems to have a knack at formulating catchy choruses and so-so lyrics.
The rest of the band is talented as well, with the keyboardist showing a lot more reserve than he did in Marilyn is Dead; instead of thoroughly abusing synth, it’s now used tastefully to reinforce the instrumentation. As it should be. The guitarists are also solid, but I feel that they are not using their full potential. They chug along loyally and provide the heavy backing for Miceli’s high pitched vocals. I say they have potential because at certain sections of songs, the backing guitarist enters into a short but pretty technical riffing section (listen to the intro of “Immortal”). It’s a sweet moment, but it’s rare. The bassist is largely inaudible, because he is largely drowned out by the more powerful lead and rhythm guitarists, but he does provide an atmospheric, solid, heavier sound to the guitars. As for the drummer, it’s well-executed, powerful fills and provides a clean backbone to the songs, although they lack somewhat in the complexity department. But hey, it's a young band.
But with all the pros of this band, there are always cons. The instrumentation largely serves as vocal support, and instead of taking control, they leave that job to Miceli. He leads the songs well, but because of his frequent vocal masturbation, everything else gains a somewhat uninteresting luster. Choruses are repeated too much a la Saosin, but AT LEAST they are catchy. The use of obvious autotune at times can be distracting, and the screaming is more of an annoyance than a boon; Miceli seems to be warbling/yelling instead of actually screaming. It actually sounds rather painful, but thankfully, he screams so sparingly that it’s extremely tolerable.
All in all, Palisades is a solid, catchy band that needs more progression and improvement. They’ve made great progress already in such a short amount of time, and I eagerly anticipate further improvement. This band sounds good, and if they keep heading in the direction they’re going, they will sound even better. My heart goes out to these guys, because they love what they do, and I sincerely hope that they spice up the instrumentation and shed their dependency on formulaic song structures. I have high hopes for Palisades, not because this EP is groundbreaking (it’s not) but because they show so much growth in a short time and so much potential—it’s as if a few other garbage “core” bands had siphoned their musical growth into this one band.
Standout tracks: "Seamless Ending", "Wolves"