With three members of one of the most revered post-metal bands to have survived out of the 90's in Isis, teaming up with Deftones leading man Chino Moreno, the internet was abuzz with what was coming from this supergroup. Moreno has long been held as one of rock's premier frontmen, with a distinctive voice that has lent itself to so many different genres of music over the years but with the backing of Isis trio Jeff Caxide, Bryant Clifford Mayer and Aaron Harris, many expected an epic wall of noise that would reinvent the genre. What we have isn't the game changer that many- myself admittedly included- expected, but something altogether much more interesting.
“Palms” is only six tracks long, but it's long enough that it can let each and every moment of these songs capture you. It's not as heavy as Isis, which allows the music to flow a lot more and made me feel like I was sitting, watching a calm ocean. The first time you hear Moreno's voice fading into the foreground, it's clear this is a man happy to not be straining his voice and actually showing off what he has in his arsenal. While each track has it's own engaging feel and unique qualities, it's very easy to lose track of where one ends and the next begins as you're carried through the soundscape they've created together.
Future Warrior is probably my favourite track on the album and a phenomenal opener for the album. The band are spot on in creating a pulsing, vibrant, almost alive wall of sound and Moreno, who I will happily admit is probably my all time top frontman, gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it, in a way I've not felt since my first listening of Pink Maggit. It builds to a point that wouldn't feel natural in many songs, with a very soft opening to a full on scream along climax, but you'll be dragged into the track through the powerful vocals and emotive guitar.
Patagonia is a more laid back affair, and reminds me of Cherry Waves by the Deftones. You can tell that Moreno thrives when his voice isn't strained and this tracks really shows off that side of his vocals, as he allows Meyer's guitar to carry the track to it's fading conclusion.
At nearly 10 minutes long, Mission Sunset should be a chore to listen to, but leave it to three quarters of Isis to be able to make it feel like the most natural thing in the world. At three minutes in, the song is still showing you the path it's going to be taking and by five minutes, you're still not there, but the journey is worth the wait by the time it peaks around the seven minute mark as all four members of the band are at their very best.
At this midway point, I'll take a second to say that I'm aware it may seem like I'm gushing a little. First off, the Deftones are probably my all time favourite band (I have a White Pony tattoo) and Chino Moreno is up there as my personal favourite frontman ever. I like Isis, but have nowhere near the knowledge or frame of reference with them as I do the Deftones. Apologies if I'm missing anything glaring regarding that band.
Shortwave Radio feels like a bit of time off for the musicians, with it being a more subdued jam for the majority of the song, allowing Moreno to show his vocals off over the top before things take a darker turn, as for what feels like the first time, the band change to a minor key and we get the first real screams from Moreno, repeating the lyric- “You're staring into heaven, descending into hell.” It doesn't feel out of place in the album, my only criticism is that they've waited until they only have two tracks remaining to build on this turn in what has been a positive sounding album thus far.
Tropics is the chance they take to calm things down again “relax in the tide; feel the breeze going by” are among the lyrics as Palms paint a majestic soundscape of lying on a beach at sunset, not even subtly, with Moreno describing the scene in some detail. The eventual swell of the track doesn't change the scenery it's painted, but instead would suggest the sea getting wild and the rain starting to fall- but the surroundings are to beautiful to move on.
The finale Antartic Handshake weighs in at an epic 9 minutes and 42 seconds in length and is the perfect end to the album. A soaring five minutes soon give way to the most epic breakdown of the album as it comes to it's fading conclusion.
Let me just say, this is by no means a perfect album. There are a couple of points it feel disjointed but each of the six tracks are extremely strong which is as well as there is no room here for filler. The group have clearly tried to create something extremely special and may have tried too hard, but when the result is as good as this, you can forgive a couple of minor flaws. Plus, after all- isn't it the imperfections that really make you realise how much you love something?
The 411: The most intriguing thing about this album is how it could quite easily sit as the perfect soundtrack to a Michael Mann movie, or as the song playing on the radio in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. What Palms have accomplished here is that they have created a timeless album, but not in the sense that it will live forever.
It feels like it already has.