Album Review: Palm Reader – Beside The Ones We Love

Hardcore can be so constraining it’s often difficult to break out from the genre. That British hardcore is currently going through a golden period has meant many bands (Bastions et al) have upped their game and spurred others to do the same. Step forward Palm Reader, who may have just laid down another marker for others to aspire to…

However, be warned, ‘Beside The Ones We Love’ is not for the feint-hearted. Nor is it a hardcore album that wants to achieve rabble-rousing easy wins. Instead, there are flashes of everything from death metal, thrash and tech-metal thrown into the mix. On the first couple of listens it’s like finding yourself in the middle of a maelstrom.

It also, at times feels self-indulgent. Take, for example, the elongated outro of ‘Black Hand’ or the low rumbling percussive-heavy intro to ‘Sing Out, Survivor’ to understand just how Palm Reader aren’t looking for easy wins on ‘Beside The Ones We Love’.

But persevere and you’ll find ‘Beside The Ones We Love’ is as rewarding as it is challenging. You’ll also discover a band fighting against constraints and convention to create an intelligent and literate hardcore record. Take the aforementioned ‘Sing Out, Survivor’, which may take the best part of two and a half minutes to get going, but is a brilliant fist in the air slow-burner, or the sumptuous ‘Travelled Path’, where a gorgeous guitar line is punctuated by Josh Mckeown’s brutal vocals. It’s brilliantly effective.

Elsewhere, ‘Stone’s Blood’ and the terrifying ‘Stacks’ recall the chaos of Drowningman at their scattergun best, while ‘Unabridged’ sees the band head into prog territory, dragging their sound out to an incredible 7 minutes. That it is actually one of the outstanding cuts is testament to Palm Reader’s skill as musicians, but I bet it also absolutely kills live.

It means that Palm Reader may have ultimately delivered a game changer for British hardcore. Passionate, dark and menacing but wonderfully played and bristling with intensity, homegrown hardcore has rarely sounded so good. That it challenges as much as it entertains shows what can be done when hardcore is pushed and pulled beyond recognition, but it also proves us Brits can match anything that is thrown at us as the next big thing from the States.

4/5

‘Beside the Ones We Love’ by Palm Reader is out on 6 April on In At The Deep End Records

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Words by Rob Mair(@BobNightMair)

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