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.
Ahead of the release of their fifth album on Friday (16th Feb), Feed The Rhino frontman Lee Tobin took some time out to talk to us about the return of the band, the new album and Jamie Lenman.
First of all, congratulations on a fantastic new record! It feels just as angry but more controlled than your past releases – do you feel the band has matured in the last 4 years? I definitely think we’ve learned a lot, not just now but in the last nine or ten years. Over the last four years definitely. Parting ways for a while to do our own thing, having our own space to contend with ourselves. You find out how involved you were in the band. You have to mature really, it’s the only thing you can do.
In terms of lyrics, has your approach changed since The Sorrow and the Sound? I don’t think it’s changed that much, really. If anything, I always wear my heart on my sleeve to try to write what I personally feel and say. At the same time, there are a few different elements on this album where it’s not too personal to me – one of the songs is about someone else for a start. It’s about finding the right words to say and put forward for that, as well as trying to connect a bit at the same time. My general way is putting across a good feeling in the music and use that to try to put out what’s in my head to the best of my ability.
Yellow And Green is a fantastic melodic tune from the album – will it be one for the setlist or will it be a while before we hear it? It’ll be one to wait for, to be honest. That track was a late bloomer really, we finished writing it in the studio. I love that tune – it’s one of the tracks that I find really sets the album up and it’s a lovely transitional song in the album. It was great fun to record and write as well. I’d love to play it live though because I think it would sound amazing. I don’t know how well I’d sing it but I’d definitely give it a go.
Was it one of the more vocally challenging songs for you to record then? It’s not so much the fact that any of them are difficult. I think it was always something that was always in the back of my mind; I always wanted to push the cleaner vocals a little bit more and we wanted to write a bigger chorus. It’s just a challenge really, going from heavy into clean vocals. It’s something I’m not really used to but it’ll be a really big test on this tour. I really want to do it and I hope I can do it well.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why? It’s changed a lot. First of all, I really like Losing Ground because it was different from every one of our albums. Not completely different because we’ve always written those interlude songs on our albums like Tides [on 2012 album The Burning Sons], Empty Mirrors [on 2010 album Mr Red Eye], Sitting Ducks [on Mr Red Eye] and now this on this album. Losing Ground is more of a song than a transition like those though, less of an interlude track. It’s a song that means a lot to me and I thought we connected really well writing it. I think we’ve made it sound really good, but I really love [album opener] Timewave Zero too because it’s a bridge between the old and the new. It’s still got the heavy vocals, the real slap-heavy riffs and a bit more of a polished sound. It’s got that clean chorus too which we’ve tried to do on this album more. I’ll listen through the album and end up sticking on All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy – that song is a thumper. That reminds me of the old us, it really brings nostalgia. For me, it’s probably that song really.
What do you hope this album will do for Feed the Rhino? Just give us the opportunity to tour again really. We’re a live band; we love playing live. It’s our heartbeat. Other than that, maybe just to show people a different side to us which hopefully they like. It’s going to get mixed reviews because it’s something slightly unusual for us to take this kind of direction but if we didn’t try we wouldn’t know. The thing is for us – this is really stepping back in. We love the music industry, the scene, we love playing music live. We’ve always written the stuff we want to write and we always will. If it sounds good to us and it sounds like Feed The Rhino then we’ll write it. We want people to see this album as something new that is still very us. We want it to get the excitement back to bring people to watch us again.
Do you feel the UK heavy music scene has changed in the time you’ve been active? I think it’s changed a lot. Coming back now, it feels different. We’re going out now for the first time in a while and there are bands we toured with back then that have gotten a lot bigger and doing bigger things, but there is a new crop of bands coming through playing different kinds of music. The good thing about the industry and the heavy scene is that the change and new feel is good, but at the same time it’s good to see old dogs doing good things as well. Look how long Jamie Lenman‘s been around but what he’s writing at the moment is genius! He’s the Beethoven of the industry at the moment, and I love that. It’s good to see bands like While She Sleeps doing the shows they’re doing, and Architects deserve everything they’re getting at the moment. They’re just great at what they do. Everything they’ve written has been really, really good but bands have to progress. Doomsday, just wow. Everything they’re writing now is brilliant. Those boys should be proud of themselves.
If you could have written any one song in the world, what would it be and why? I don’t know what song it would be, but it would have to be a Rage Against The Machine song. I mean, for one they’re the best band ever. Their songs just make you react. Off the top of my head, probably Killing In The Name but they have so many good ones.
What albums have you been listening to recently? Jamie Lenman‘s new album, a lot. I actually listened to Black Peaks for the first time recently too which is great, because I didn’t know too much about them. I haven’t got round to listening to new Marmozets‘ but I will do, definitely.
Where do you see the band in 5 years’ time? Still kicking the s*** out of it… I’d like to think we’ll still be here in five years’ time, and I can see us doing bigger and better things. We’re making a start on that now, and we’ll build on it and build with it. We’ll keep writing, stay Feed The Rhino and re-establish us as Feed The Rhino really.
If you could create a dream tour lineup including yourselves, who would accompany you? Feed The Rhino, Rage Against The Machine and Pantera, easy. There would be nothing left of anywhere. Obviously with Dimebag though. I’d dream about that stuff. That’s one of those situations where you’d get asked who you’re touring with and you’d say ‘the two best bands ever!’
Have you got any specific hopes for the upcoming headline tour? Hoping people come out to see us and have some fun. The shows are going to be some really good times. There will be new stuff and old stuff, because people that know us know we love a party and that’s what’s going to happen on these shows. We’re playing some great places, playing some cool little venues with some bigger venues and selling the album out on tour too. Just come and party with us!
Thanks to Lee for talking to us and best of luck to the band for the album release!
The Silence will drop on Century Media on Friday 16th February across all platforms, and you can catch Feed The Rhino on tour at these dates:
Feb 20 – Bristol @ Exchange Feb 21– Exeter @ Cavern Feb 22 – Southampton @ Joiners Feb 23 – London @ The Underworld Feb 24 – Norwich @ The Owl Sanctuary Feb 27 – Nottingham @ The Rescue Rooms Feb 28, 2018 – Newcastle @ Think Tank Mar 1 – Glasgow @ G2 Mar 2 – Manchester @ Rebellion Mar 3 – Birmingham @ The Flapper Mar 15 – North Wales @ Hammerfest
Many of Of Mice & Men‘s fans were surprised when clean vocalist Aaron Pauley confirmed he would be taking on lead vocal duties alongside the release of first single Unbreakable, but Defy takes on a blend of the sounds of Of Mice & Men‘s older material and Pauley’s former band Jamie’s Elsewhere during his vocal tenure.
Defy is kicked off with the title track which again shocked a large portion of the fanbase when it was released. A return to heavy riffs and crushing vocals is evident as soon as the song kicks in with screams and chugging guitars dominating all of the space on the recording. Come the chorus, these somewhat make way for a wide, sweeping gang vocal that demonstrates the incorporation of Restoring Force ideas for what seems like the first time since it was released. The heaviest breakdown since at least 2011’s The Flood hits around halfway through the track, bookended by the choruses that ground the track safely in the band’s style. A very promising start.
Following up the opener comes what is arguably the best song on the album – titled Instincts. The sheer power of the guitar work is sure to be enough to make many sit in awe of the tone crafted throughout, and backed up by the cymbal-filled drum wrap-around created by Tino and the producers that cuts through the chunky guitar-bass hybrid. The wah-riddled solo from Phil sounds dystopian in sections and is just plain technical in others – this is a lead guitarist who has his confidence and ability on display now more than ever before. It’s not all heavy and crazy though – lighter songs including pre-release single Back To Me are sure to keep fans of the newer eras of the band with the catchy choruses and more middle-of-the-road rock sound they have crafted.
Vocally throughout, Aaron sounds very much in practice as if he never slowed up his screaming at all. Forever YDG’n is written somewhat as a tribute to the first two albums of the band, and the vocal work throughout the tune does it justice entirely. Slightly contrasting the nostalgia is Sunflower which brings a new dual-scream dynamic with Pauley providing harsh growls alongside higher screams to create a wonderful blend that matches the feeling of the instrumentals perfectly.
The elephant in the room must be addressed though: yes, the track titled Money really is a cover of thatPink Floyd song. Was it expected? Not at all. Does it work? Honestly, it does in its own strange way. Taken as a single, the cover seems to be a rather strange rendition and outside the comfort zone of Of Mice & Men as a band, but when woven into the fabric of the album as a whole the placement of the song and the themes within the lyrics work to slot in seamlessly.
Overall, Defy is a fantastic return to form for a band that seemed to lose their way with their last release. Losing the spearhead figure of your band often crushes all morale and demands dramatic reinvention. As Robert Burns said in his poem from which the band’s name originated, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley” – Of Mice & Men had the perfect solution to Defy all expectations.
Following the announcement of their album, Asking Alexandria have announced the title and have released another song. The new record will be self-titled and is set for a 15th December release. The album is the first to have original frontman Danny Worsnop back after his departure in 2015.
The new song released today is called Where Did It Go? and throws some serious shade at modern metal bands… It sounds a bit like this:
Dutch three-piece Paceshifters were first up on the bill with their energetic alt-rock anthems being belted out at the ever-filling venue. Despite being first up, the band has been going longer than any of the other projects by a considerable margin but that hasn’t made them look tired; brothers Paul and Seb Dokman co-fronting the show brings a warm connection with not only each other but with the audience, and a portion of the audience fell in love with the fraternity all three members seemed to have onstage. Drummer Jesper Albers is by no means the odd-one-out alongside the siblings either – his hard-hitting drumbeats and phenomenal energy showed off he was the best drummer of the night’s bill. Finishing off with a guest appearance from The Patience guitarist Evan Nestor to play a Nirvana cover A punchy and momentum-building tour for them, no doubt. [8/10]
Next up, bringing his stripped-down stage show to the UK stage was Derek Zanetti (better known as The Homeless GospelChoir) who possesses unique stage presence which just makes every member of the audience feel at ease with his style and grace. Very much the US Frank Turner in terms of song-style, his recorded music varies from acoustic to full-band but his stage show is an incredibly vulnerable, heart-on-his-sleeve affair with breaks mid-song to talk to the crowd. The stop-start nature is anything but a disappointment though, and it felt like he became a friend to every audience member watching on in his time onstage performing songs largely from his latest album The Homeless Gospel Choir Presents: Normal. A fantastic talent with some very poignant opinions and stories to share, someone to never miss if he’s touring. [9/10]
Punk frontman Dave Hause may have only been with The Mermaid as a band since February, but the last show on the tour before he departed was his 111th of the year with them – not bad going for a new band. The diversity in his catalogue was evident throughout with some songs having hints of Bryan Adams in them and others being far more middle-of-the-road rock and roll styling, but Hause‘s frontman capabilities are completely evident throughout every single song. His display of Rickenbacker, Gibson and Nash guitars showed his experience and commitment to the road after all these years, and storming through songs from each of his solo albums proved his songwriting prowess. Dedicating fan-favourite Dirty Fucker to Donald Trump proved popular, but not as popular as him giving out free shirts throughout the song because he didn’t want to take them back home to the US. A cover of Tom Petty seemed a fitting tribute as members of The Patience came out to make a giant supergroup of the two bands. A classy set from a band that will definitely make their name on the road with ease if they choose to stick together as The Mermaid. [9/10]
Now infamous in his own right after 2 stellar albums and fresh of the back of his first EP, Frank Iero and his band The Patience came out to a lot of excited fans and immediately broke into World Destroyer to kick off one of the best punk rock sets Nottingham has seen in recent years. The no-holds-barred, sing-scream-shout blend of Frank’s vocals brings the level of excitement through the roof and the backing of long-time guitarist Evan Nestor brings a stage chemistry to rival many of the biggest bands in the world right now. A The Replacements cover with Dave Hause and a rendition of The Beatles‘ Helter Skelter threw some proof of their cultured influences (as if they needed the proof anyway), and the emotional performance of Best Friends Forever proved a set highlight – a song cowritten with his daughters back in 2014. Between songs, the chats with the crowd and accepting beers from the crowd just demonstrates Frank is one of the last true punk rockers onstage in 2017 – a sad reality but he is keeping the breed alive. Fantastic set from a fantastic band, The Patience are one of the most exciting touring bands right now. [9/10]
Following a long period of playing shows with no big releases, emo/grunge mob Muskets are back with their debut full-length album CHEW, which quickly establishes its dominance over the modern grunge scene. Opening track Pond Drop features chunky guitar sounds with altered chords for a slightly eerie tone. First single 17 Years follows this up, showing the more brutal side of this album which is more reminiscent of 2014 EP Spin. The track itself was released about a year ago before the album prep was complete and this version is a rerecording on the new label to go with the album. The gruff vocals that dominate the chorus and the crunchy bass tone through the bridge show Muskets at their best are a force to be reckoned with.
The guitar and bass tones shine throughout the album on every track; the bass introductions to 17 Years and Decay are distorted and groove-laden but even under the loud, punky Chewing Gum it beats away to underpin the sliding leads. In the same way, throughout intros like Breathing the guitar is a dirty hum of chording with lead sections in You’re So Cool are packed with a shimmery shoegaze tone that sounds fantastic over the top of the rest of the beat.
At the more punk end of the album’s spectrum, Frankie Stable is a fast, dynamic track with a bit more of the “let’s keep this sloppy and see how it goes” feel that defines Muskets in the market today. The first verse is a fairly high, shouted section that breaks into slower, groovy chorus to make a smooth blend of tuned and raw that works to great effect. Closing the album with Umbilical saves the slowest for last but is by no means the least of the tracks. The trippy end piece plays the album out with a mellow guitar feedback section with a slow bassline thudding away to finish off the collection.
Perhaps the most notable thing about the whole album (as with the rest of the band’s discography to date) is the rare addition of Anglicised vocals throughout CHEW which comes as a welcome break from the faux-American accents put on by a lot of UK vocalists across the genres. Hearing the UK origins in a band is particularly satisfying when they have such great natural potential.
Overall the only real criticism that can be made of the album is that it lacks stylistic variety, but the fact it’s their debut album just goes to show they’ve found their sound throughout the last few years and have made a mastery of it before releasing the full-length. A fantastic delivery on the promise their single and EP showed, very exciting emerging UK talent on display.
Frank Iero has always dreamed of working with Steve Albini, and when he finally got the chance he put together a combination of a recent single, an old rarity track, an unreleased song and a cover to give the producer a platform to produce his magic with the band. The EP comes less than a year after The Patience‘s second album Parachutes (which we rated a solid 9) ahead of their European tour over the next few months.
Opening the EP is Parachutes track I’m A Mess which is already a fan favourite before this release, but the Albini-influenced version has the raw feel of a live track with what sounds like a natural reverb underlying the dry recording. That aside, there isn’t much difference between the regular studio recording but a good performance of the song which is made almost more gritty with the odd error here and there as could be expected live. Following up is a piece that Frank released back in 2014 as a solo song which featured his twin daughters Lily and Cherry, titled BFF. This version is far more upbeat as a band version tends to be, giving a sense of gravity to Iero’s pained lyric “things just don’t feel right when you’re not by my side” among others.
The most hardcore-influenced of the four songs on the EP comes under the title No Fun Club third on the tracklist. The signature Frank far away/distorted screaming sound fills any empty space left by the heavy distortion on all the guitar and bass sounds throughout to produce a fast, punky feel for the minute and a half it takes up. Closing up the EP with a classic Johnny Cash cover, Iero has the fuzz-filled guitar tone for which he has become infamous since his My Chemical Romance days. Resting on a lilting tempo, the version has been performed live a fair number of times but the capturing of the emotion in the frontman’s voice ensnares the essential essence of The Patience and everything they do: messy, rough yet perfectly imperfect in the best way.
As their fifth self-titled album under the The Bronx branch of their music, fans are expecting the latest album by the LA punks to be refined and high quality – two features which come in abundance in just about every track.
Opening track Night Drop at the Glue Factory is raw and overdriven from the start, before introducing distorted vocals that bring the sound almost to a hardcore-influenced Foo Fighters vibe which is executed fantastically. Fuzz-fuelled solos and hard-hit pacey drum parts. The seamless transition into Stranger Danger is the first but most certainly not the last, as the five-piece glide seamlessly between sub-genres with every track.
The album demonstrates something for everyone: hardcore elements in Sore Throat, a power-blues feel in Broken Arrow, some softer (almost indie) rock aspects in Side Effects that would fit immaculately into any time of day on Radio X among others, and tracks including Two Birds and Channel Islands have tones almost resembling classic 80’s crunch rock sounds to bring the album a retro side with wah ripping up and down through the frequency bands to provide a depth to the riff sounds throughout all of the guitar fill work present on the song.
It is often easy to pick some standout pieces from albums to separate the wheat from the chaff ahead of listeners’ first experience, but every song on BRVNX is just as strong as each other – the deciding factor on a favourite for fans is likely to be which subgenres of rock they prefer most and how they like the band’s execution of said style!
Vocally, the album is just as diverse as the instrumental styles. Frontman Matt Caughthran manages to pitch his vocal frequencies to cut through the mix through every style of rock The Bronx display so well, showing his diversity when contrasting more hardcore tracks like Sore Throat which features fairly heavily distorted sounds the whole way through with Side Effects which provides far more melodic and dry vocal work.
In terms of production, the band have gelled amazingly with Rob Schnapf (Beck, FIDLAR) to create a collection that showcases the various points of talent they hold in a style where they seem incredibly comfortable. Seamless transitions between elements in every song illustrate the songwriting capabilities they have been honing over the past fifteen years and it feels like that side of The Bronx has come into fruition now more than ever in this cycle.
Overall, the confidence and songwriting prowess of all involved have made this album a force to be reckoned with – a certain contender for a lot of ‘album of the year’ lists!
Taking to the stage first was Midlands acoustic man Luke Rainsford who brought in a fair crowd considering he was first up and had come a long way. Opening with Home Safe, Luke played through material from both of his full length albums with aplomb as he always does, blowing away both fans and first timers alike with his honest lyrics and catchy hooks. Closing with his personal favourite track Frame, Luke looked as though he was going to cry as he screamed out “I know that I’ll never learn” to an already emotional crowd as the cathartic close to a set that always seems to short from his restrictions – just about the only criticism that can be made about his live shows. [9/10]
ICYMI took to the stage in the difficult situation of following Rainsford, but the energy and vocal ability of frontwoman Elin Allan stood them in good stead for the set to follow. Playing through their tracks proved to be fairly hit and miss up to their cover of NSYNC‘s Bye Bye Bye (yes, really) which turned the whole set around. The version featured heavy guitars and the attitude of Allan shining through to sweeten the crowd up before finishing with their single Get Out to finish off the set. The band have big things coming towards the end of this year, so keep an eye out – they’re one for the future. [7/10]
As the only local band of the night, pop punkers All These Years took to the stage. It appeared throughout that the band weren’t particularly well known among the onlookers but pretty quickly gained some fans with their more punk-influenced tracks as they hopped about the stage being generally offensive in the best possible way. Playing through the material from both EPs and latest single What Was Left Unsaid, All These Years put life into what was previously a fairly still crowd, perfectly filling their role as a support for the show. [8/10]
Coming off the back of their debut EP release a couple of weeks ago, touring newcomers Maypine were absolutely filled with confidence hitting the Camden attic’s stage. They played through the EP’s five tracks with a couple of additional originals, but the real gem in the set was their emo rendition of Fix You by Coldplay which they released back in July (if you’re curious, listen here). The set was filled with enthusiasm, talent and hope – qualities that can are lacking in a lot of new touring bands, which are virtually never captured in the same capacity as Maypine have them. [9/10]
Finishing up the night came Better Than Never who, surprisingly, drew less of a crowd than Maypine though the remaining audience were the rowdiest of the night by some margin. Blasting through both EPs, frontman James Harris bounced around with no visible intention of slowing down as he hyped up the crowd. Later, some growls mid-song produced a few looks of confusion from those not fully aware of Forty Eight from the band’s latest collection Head Under Water as they expected more pop punk tracks, but that didn’t subtract from any enjoyment on anyone’s faces. Towards the end of the set, Luke Rainsford was floating around the front of the crowd making gestures before he (somewhat unsurprisingly) made another appearance to duet Panama with Harris. A good performance to round off the night. [8/10]