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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Record & Review: Palms

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Palms self titled album

Veteran song writers combine forces to create a dense atmosphere of sound layering and slow-burning crescendos in the nu-metal supergroup Palms.

Along with Deftones lead singer Chino Moreno, Palms consists mainly of three members from the now disbanded Isis: Clifford Meyer, Aaron Harris and Jeff Caxide. Palms accentuates many different musical qualities in order to create a unique sound.

In the album’s opener “Fugitive Warrior,” for example, Meyer’s guitar work lays down the form for the track while Moreno’s vocals pulsate like a jazz singer hitting the beats between the notes to add an extra layer. This track embodies, more than any of the other songs on the album, the sum of an Isis and Deftones union. This seven-minute piece unfolds slowly, building on itself until it finales with a rocking tempo.

“Patagonia” begins with a dreamy keyboard intro as Harris sets the pace with his well-timed drum beat. Then the change into a guitar riff laden song is revealed through the first few notes of a crooning Moreno singing a soft verse. The chorus is structured around Meyer’s guitar riff with Moreno ooohing along. This track could stand alone as an instrumental, but Moreno adds the wow factor with a well-timed echo voicing effect.

The standout track on the album, “Shortwave Radio,” is utterly arresting from start to finish. Moreno’s influence is obvious with a groove only he could deliver. The instruments add an ambiance of a beautiful dream as Moreno sings in his signature off-key drone.

Palms are hitting on all cylinders’ here. Halfway through the six-minute piece, the song changes gears with a “Dream Theatre”-inspired middle that turns into a classic Moreno chant, “ascending into heaven / well staring into hell.” This track, like the previous ones on the album, builds on itself until it crescendos. This is the only song audiences can hear the classic Moreno scream listeners may be waiting in anticipation for.

The closing track “Antarctic Handshake” slowly builds into a makeout sound track. This number is closely related to the Deftones’ “Sextape” on the “Diamond Eyes” album. The sleepy guitar work layers an atmosphere of relaxation added to by the keyboard effect in the background. An echo is slowly worked in to sustain the already mesmerizing sonic wall of the shoe gaze landscape this number creates. After a slow burn out, the drums come in for the first time, leaving listeners a beat driven finale.

This record is an innovative testament to the maturity level of some of the most influential 90s bands. They’ve grown up and their music has followed. Palms establishes a theme from beginning to end that never wavers from its path. The drawback to this EP is that it has only six tracks to show for this group’s longtime effort in the studio.

That being said, the album does clock in at a monumental 47 minutes, not bad for the limited number of songs. This is a totally original sounding concept album of dream metal that is definitely worth a listen for fans of either of the two bands that make Palms come to life.

Stephen Montoya is culture editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @StephenMontoya9.