Review Summary: Passionately delivered hardcore from a band that should be bigger.
Despite their dedicatedly passionate approach at making music injected with monstrous grooves and impactful riffs to askew rhythmic patterns and their potent live performances, Palm Reader’s biggest claim to fame is that whenever they are mentioned in conversation, someone will always reiterate how underrated they are. Annoyingly, they’re one of those bands that so many people seem to have heard of but not actually heard. Hence why their excellent sophomore album, “Besides the Ones We Love”
, prompted no sudden surge in popularity that might have lifted them to the same heights as bands such as let live, possibly even higher… Nevertheless, third time’s a charm.
Those that assumed Palm Reader’s second album expunged every drop of sentiment the band could conjure are wrong. Three years difference leaves ample time for new events to unfold, new lessons to learn and new wounds to heal from, thus, “Braille”
is still dripping with a raw emotive power that Palm Reader deliver in a special way to avoid sounding angsty yet the gravity and meaning behind the words that Josh McKeown spits out remain affectionately potent. The lyricism across “Braille”
is intimately delivered, detailing a recurring feeling of losing touch with people, the world and your inner-self. Songs such as “Inertia”, “The Turn” and “Dorothy” feature minimalistic moments of gentle melodies or grasping clean choruses that create space amongst their otherwise oppressive hardcore, accentuating a one-to-one contact between performer and audience.
As touching as “Braille”
is in these tender moments, it’s also suitably pummelling in others. Palm Reader’s brevity is displayed more coherently than their previous two albums in songs such as “Swarm”, where adrenalized drums and skittish guitars collide together as if the musicians themselves are performing in the middle of a mosh pit before a fantastic intermission of tremolo picking announces a volatile climax. Josh McKeown’s screams sound dry and furious, his clean singing genuine and across the album, his vocals frequently appear to dictate the intensity of the given song. “Internal Winter” features swift staccato blows and huge breakdowns as he screams about the effect loss has on a person yet swelling melodies raise the cleanly sung chorus further. In these moments, when every member of the band is aligned and every sound fits perfectly into place to create these bracing moments, Palm Reader displays why they deserve to be huge, and these moments are scattered generously over “Braille”
in both softer and harsher areas of it.
However, despite their creativity, the band does showcase a few aspects of hardcore that could be considered clichés which, to some, are become tedious when you consider that the foundation of hardcore is originality. Slow, isolated screaming behind a quiet backdrop of soft melodies is one technique Palm Reader are charged with possessing during a few songs. “Clockwork” illustrates this, however, immediately after a tide of churning bass with spiking leads washes over the song reaffirming that the band can still spice up these tried-and-tested methods with their own flavour.
A rather poetic comparison to the band’s career is that “Braille”
may not prove to be an immediately accessible album. This quintet jam pack as much talent as possible into every song so, on one hand, you may think that these songs need trimming or could do with allowing a riff or melody to breath more freely, on the other, the excitement and interest that “Braille”
projects are purely down to its constant, unpredictable movement. Nonetheless, this album continues the band’s tradition in outdoing themselves with every subsequent release and with that trajectory, Palm Reader will undoubtedly earn the respect they deserve in due time.