Palm Reader are pretty much the epitome of modern hardcore. The band play an uncompromising blend of technical hardcore that’s balanced against some surprising moments of heart-on-sleeve screamo. After last year’s self titled EP which was a pretty full-on and rather heavy release, this added element of thoughtful respite gives the band’s debut album Bad Weather a huge amount of depth.
That’s not to say that Palm Reader are any less angry. Bad Weather can be absolutely savage when it wants to be. Smack Hound is probably one of the most relentlessly vicious slabs of hardcore any band have released on an unsuspecting nation. It’s also complimented by Palm Reader’s amazing technical ability that makes the song twist and turn with wild abandon, but never sounding sloppy in the process. Palm Reader are wonderfully tight musicians but know exactly when to change between pin-point precision and heart-felt emotion.
When Palm Reader do change styles, they do it by slinging a piece of the 3 part song Grace at you. These 3 segments form the bleak and atmospheric tracks Unwanted Guest, Bitter Hostess and Noble Host and showcase the band in a much more subdued and contemplative state. Spacing these songs out across the entire album instead of having them all side-by-side was a stroke of genius by the band as it gives the listener a moment of respite before the band crank up the hardcore once again.
One particular part of Grace needs a special mention. Noble Host allows vocalist Josh Mckeown to flex his pipes outside of his throat-tearing screams and gives Bad Weather a surprising highlight. Mckeown’s soulful singing is genuinely brilliant and it’s a wonder why it wasn’t employed more over the course of the album. Noble Host is one of the most impressive things this band has produced and it would be great to hear this style explored further on whatever the band do next.
Bad Weather is an album of two sides; unrelenting heaviness and beautiful, haunting melodies. The fact it works so well together is a testament to how much Palm Reader have grown as song-writers. This is a truly landmark hardcore release that dares to move away from the standard template. Bravo Palm Reader; bravo.
Palm Reader’s Bad Weather is released on the 6th of May through Small Town Records. Pre-order it here.