Well known for their range of influences across hardcore and punk rock, Palm Reader haven’t been afraid to get stuck right in when they’re recording in the studio and they’re anything but strangers to going hard. Luckily, since the release of 2015 album Beside the Ones We Love they’ve definitely not lost that attitude or identity. Right from the very first notes of Swarm, the pace and power of this third effort are clearly evident. The influence of old-school Gallows is clear throughout the verses, with the hardcore screams having that “couldn’t give a damn” feel conveyed throughout their 2006 debut album Orchestra of Wolves.
Crashing through Internal Winter and Like A Wave, the band show no signs of slowing down. The former has elements of a djent feel with some low-tuned chug and bend work underneath the higher octave distortion to provide a hugely deep tone before moving into a melodic chorus with some quick lead riffs that fill all the remaining space. In the same vein, the latter is a no-holds-barred melodic hardcore tune with some ferocious screams mixed in with very well-mixed clean vocals to provide a fantastic blend as frontman Josh McKeown demonstrates his sheer power and ability in one track.
The highlights, however, sit a little lower down the tracklist. Following more emo-influenced Inertia, the instrumental track Breach splits up the album immaculately. The stuttering delay and rich reverb of the guitars combined with synth sounds creates an atmospheric, almost dream-like pause in the heaviness to leave time to think of where the album has been and the direction it is set to take. A long fade out brings the track to an end, and the calm before the storm is broken by the immense Coalesce. The giant guitar sounds bring the release right back to the track it set before the interlude, and the visceral screams of “wake up, wake up” instantly grab the attention back after the rest. The song by itself sums up the album incredibly well – a bolshy and raucous sound with refined and melodic elements, clearly influenced by a number of different artists.
Parallelling those tracks are another instrumental track Dorothy and the following Clockwork but with one key difference – Clockwork is a phenomenally broad and somewhat surprisingly restrained piece. Featuring no screams until a bridge over two minutes in, the first half of the song relies on lyrical content and the relationship between the dynamic vocal melody and the effect-rich guitar tones before developing into a pulsating, confident and heavy message of encouragement to “keep breathing”. Unlike with many bands though, the two parts of the song are not only blended through the dynamic bridge but somehow Palm Reader manage to retain the integral feel of the emotive first section throughout the heavy second – one of (if not the) best track in their repertoire.
Overall, not only a well-written and performed album but a beautifully crafted record with many, many faces. If anyone had any doubts about the ability or questioned the power of Palm Reader, Braille is set to make them look incredibly, incredibly stupid.
A shoutout has to go to the label Silent Cult as well – they’re giving some fantastic bands a platform to put out some excellent music.