Palm Reader – ‘Beside The Ones We Love’ [Review]
Palm Reader don’t deal in niceties. Where some of their peers might opt for an expansive, solemn intro in order to lull listeners into a false sense of security, Palm Reader give it ten seconds before going straight for the throat. From there, I Watch The Fire Chase My Tongue starts proceedings as Palm Reader mean to go on – with a good metric fuckton of math-ridden, Dillinger Escape Plan-inspired brutality.
Beside The Ones We Love is the sound of a band shoving impatiently against its own limits – and then, victory achieved, stamping them into the ground. This album is just eight minutes longer than its predecessor Bad Weather – but there’s so much additional epicness crammed into this 40-minute set that you’d be forgiven for expecting it to run even longer. From the 28 Days Later-esque vibes of I Watch The Fire Chase My Tongue to Pedant‘s no-fucks-given catharsis, Sing Out, Survivor‘s doom-laden grooves and the intelligent lyricism of Stacks, it doesn’t take long for overwhelmingly apocalyptic visuals to come to the mind in this album’s company. We’re not talking about “songwriting” or “composition” here – more like musical telepathy.
For me, Travelled Paths is one of the best moments on this album. Combining unstable chords with unhinged vocals and a lyric that may well reference Facebook’s bullshit reach-10%-of-your-page’s-fans-and-pay-to-access-the-other-90% rule (“So share / If your audience ignores you / Speak / For they may not hear”) amongst other things, it elicits a guttural reaction without needing to take things over the top. Beyond that point, there’s still some way to go: Stone’s Blood cuts straight back into hi-octane insanity; Resolution is nothing less than a hardcore-fuelled steamroller which seems impressively controlled, before proceedings are pushed right to the edge of falling apart; Black Hand pulls things back a little with Tarantino chords and jazzy drums – for the first 45 seconds, at least; and closer Unabridged sprawls anxiously over 8 minutes, running through everything from barely-there minimalism to bludgeoning riffs and soaring anthemic sections.
If you’re wondering what all the hype around Palm Reader is about, look no further than this album. It’s hardcore, sure, but Beside The Ones We Love is so much more than the sum of its influences. This is no sophomoric slump; it’s the sound of Palm Reader coming into their own.
If there’s a downside to Beside The Ones We Love, it’s that it is so intense that a single listen is likely to leave all but the toughest listeners exhausted. If you do get through it and press repeat and survive a second round, you’re a double-hard bastard and I salute you.
TMMP RATING: 90%
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