Palm Reader – ‘Braille’ (Album Review)
A few years back, Palm Reader came into their own on their supercharged sophomore album, Beside The Ones We Love (previously reviewed here). A hectic amalgam of Gallows’ ferocity, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s brain-imploding complexity, and Cult Of Luna’s menacing moodiness, Beside The Ones We Love elevated Palm Reader to the upper echelons of the UK’s hardcore scene. That progress was plainly earned through a bloody-minded work ethic, and that same attitude drives Braille from start to finish.
“Braille contains some of the most ridiculously immense riffs you’re likely to hear this year”
The opening seconds of Swarm stand a good chance of knocking out anyone expecting a long, drawn-out, cinematic intro track. 4K-grade epicness comes less than a minute later, before Palm Reader throw everything but the kitchen sink into the remainder of track one. Track one. Fucking hell.
Apart from extensive use of Greg Puciato-style vocals (which sound both uncanny and awesome), Palm Reader have pretty much transcended their influences and stretched themselves further than ever before. Ideas constantly proliferate, seeming to breed mid-song while always adding something of value. Every part and section fits and flows into a whole that is utterly mesmerizing – even when Palm Reader employ the most orthodox of rhythmic structures, the humble consistent-quarter-or-eighth-note pattern.
Braille contains some of the most ridiculously immense riffs you’re likely to hear this year – check out the end of Internal Winter and a couple of other spots during Coalesce and Clockwork for some easy highlights. Closing track A Lover, A Shadow even goes so far as to flirt with djent tones and slightly Periphery-evoking vocals, without coming across as pandering to current heavy music trends. It feels natural, not forced, and fits surprisingly well with Palm Reader’s established style.
I’d love to hear that direction explored further in the future; not many bands seem to be capable of incorporating djent influences without sounding like Periphery, Meshuggah, or Tesseract clones. If I had to only listen to one track from Braille on repeat for 24 hours, A Lover, A Shadow would be my ultimate choice.
Heaviness aside, Braille remains outstanding even during its more low-key moments. Breather tracks Breach and Dorothy both showcase a mastery of harmony and melody, while chord changes elsewhere often bring to mind Marmozets and Between The Buried And Me – two of my favourite bands ever. With Braille, Palm Reader seem to be setting themselves up as contenders for The Dillinger Escape Plan’s recently vacated throne – and while plenty of other bands will copy and paste what Dillinger did and hope nobody notices, Palm Reader have taken the spirit of what Dillinger did and gotten a great head start on the competition. They sound like nobody else – and that’s what it’s all about.
If you know a fan of experimental brutality who despaired at the loss of DEP, introduce them to Palm Reader. They’ll thank you for it.
LTK RATING: 93% (Essential Listening!)
What did you think of this album review? Follow me on Twitter here and let me know!
Braille drops April 6 – pre-order it on iTunes here.