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Palms – Palms

2013 Ipecac Recordings
Palms - Palms

A project like Palms almost sounds too be good to be true. An unexpected musical alliance that makes so much sense, even though it never seemed obvious prior to its inception. As with any so-called ‘supergroup’ though, this pairing between Deftones, etc. frontman Chino Moreno and former Isis members Jeff Caxide, Aaron Harris and Bryant Clifford Meyer does have its caveats.

The mind may immediately picture Moreno‘s tortured wails searing through the monolithic devastation that Isis (and to a larger extent Neurosis) helped to popularize. Unfortunately this is not the case as Palms is a melodic adventure above all.

In many ways it is an exploratory listen. One where marathon length harmonies are left to slowly unspool. It certainly has a gentle, wistful touch as the relaxed instrumentation undulates alongside Moreno‘s routinely hushed verses.

Fluidity is seemingly key for the band as movement is persistent, though rarely forceful. It’s at times entrancing and hypnotic and at others a numbing drone. Lush jangling guitar work and conflicted atmospherics rise and fall in an oceanic (pun not intended) fashion.

Stiff percussion cuts through the fog as Moreno floats in and out of focus all while thick bass lines lay down a plodding foundation. It’s just as dreamy as you’d think, with Moreno rarely raising his voice outside of the strained closing moments of “Shortwave Radio“.

Given the volume of the material and its overall density, Palms is for the committed rather than the casual. A complex, mixture of hazy post-rock, new wave minimalism and heaps of ambiance (think Sigur Rós.) Its breadth can make it overbearing, yet its rewards are numerous.

An admitted lack of songwriting variety is perhaps its Achilles heel; but given that the group eschew traditional structuring, this is to be expected. More concerning though is Moreno‘s unintended role as the proverbial outsider when placed with a trio of musicians who know each others intricacies. As such, there is a tendency for the singer to merely add his own proverbial aural punctuation to someone else’s sentences, rather write them for himself.

At its true core this debut is a sleepy, ponderous journey. Instrumental evolution purposefully occurs at a lumbering pace, and momentum is established as organically as possible. With that being the case, the material is not essentially riveting—though it has many moments where it enshrouds the listener in its warmth

A wholly interesting—if somewhat creatively unsure—union built out of mutual respect; “Palms” may yet be unable to tap into its full potential, but it plants deep roots for what is hopefully a robust future.

  • 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
    ( 52 votes, 3.94 stars )
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  • Surly

    “The mind may immediately picture Moreno‘s tortured wails searing through the monolithic devastation that Isis (and to a larger extent Neurosis) helped to popularize.”

    - if the band intentionally steered away from this concept to avoid a ‘cliche’, I reckon they should have done otherwise or at least incorporated more in parts. An interesting conundrum, since this is exactly what the majority of fans would want and I have no doubt the band is aware of this…What to do, what to do!? Anyway, I still dig their tunes nonetheless.

    • Surly

      I take it all it all back, this record is what it is and that’s perfectly fine by me. Lush and atmospheric.

  • Stenny

    We all want a “angry” Chino, rightt?

    It sucks when one of your favorite artists favors certain quality’s you aren’t looking for, and covers an whole album with said quality’s.

    for the record, I’ve only heard two songs – once – but I think I get the point.

    • My Farts Linger

      I prefer “an” angry Chino, dig?

      • louguzzo

        And “a” whole album. Qualities.


  • Stenny


    Looks like we have some closet Sevendust fans in Isis.

    • rageofthemage

      I thought pretty much anyone with ears that weren’t stupid liked Sevendust.

      They may be starting to show their age, but holy wowzers; Black, Home, and Animosity are like the trilogy of badass soulful metal that makes you want to dance, and smash a bus at the same time.

      • Stenny

        I love Sevendust — I’m referring to the artwork of this, and Sevendust’s newest album Black Out The Sun.

  • whatisyourforte

    this music gives me sweaty palms.

    • dietoself86

      This music gives me hairy palms.

  • Stereotypical Evil Archer

    I like what I’ve heard thus far, but I think some heavy loud crescendos would really pay off, at the expense of even more Isis comparisons. And those comparisons are happening anyway.

  • MyDarkPassenger

    Really? 9 users have rated this so far with an average of 4.5. Yet not ONE person has commented using the words “amazing” or “inspiring” or anything even close to synonymous. It’s OK fellas, we ALL worship at the alter of the deftones and many of us are also big Isis fans, but you don’t HAVE to like that they took what could have been an incredible melding of sounds and did something completely unexpected. If you do like the sound, great, but I think a lot of people are worried that Chino is looking over their shoulder as they rate.

    For the record, I abstained from rating as I haven’t had a chance to listen to the record in its entirety yet. My hunch? Somewhere between 2 and 3 stars.

    • Geor!

      I worship at the altar of Isis more than Deftones. Love one, really enjoy the other. I also think three stars is about right, though I’ll wait to vote until I hear it in a few weeks.

      Let the thumbs-downing commence!

    • Stereotypical Evil Archer

      I won’t vote until I’ve heard the whole album a dozen times.

      • Stereotypical Evil Archer

        Now I really enjoy this album. It’s a big sounding album so you really need some volume and wattage to really hear the soundscape they have created. It’s not the masterpiece I was expecting, but it’s something that will get repeat listens for the rest of my life.

  • llyod christmas

    I like what I’ve heard so far but I’m not blown away. I guess expected more with the talent involved, and when you take away the heavy aspect of Isis you have just another prog/post rock band. There’s bands like Jakob or pg.lost that do a better job at this, they just don’t have Chino doing the vocals. That’s my opinion at least

  • revstevo

    aural punctuation. hehehe.

  • They Ate Their Macaroons in Silence

    Lush and warm. This CD gave me a suntan.
    Up there with “Mer De Noms” for good lovemaking music.

    • Stereotypical Evil Archer

      Deafheaven’s Sunbather with give you a suntan and make you a better lover.

      • They Ate Their Macaroons in Silence

        ..or enhance a good fisting!
        Thanks for the nudge, I had been meaning to give that one a second listen.

  • wearesorta138

    Yes it would have been cool to have an epic, crushing song with Chino screaming against it. That said, I really enjoy this album for what it is; very well done night music.

  • puckluck71

    I’m a fan of both Deftones and Isis, but this album is about as exciting as watching paint dry. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……………….

    • PeAcE MiNuS 0Ne

      I agree. I made it to track 3 and was already bored.. Pretty upsetting.

  • pinkmaggit

    Mission Sunset…..just wow!

  • Dudebrodie

    Ok so i have had a while to really digest this album since the release listening to it a lot. It has really grown on me especially because the songs really seem to build as they go and each song is really its own unique experience to me. There are some very beautiful parts that harmonize amazingly with Chinos vocals. My specific favorites at this moment are the end of future warrior starting at about 535 patagonia’s build up to 330, mission sunset is a great song clockin in at 10 mins of epic music, tropics is a beautiful song especially enjoy the 4 min mark, antarctic handshake is another great all around song and a great way to end the record. i give it a solid 4 and like crosses i hope it gets better and better. this album has gotten better with time. to me shortwave seems the weakest track dynamically compared to others. just my opinion but i would highly recommend this album.

  • Furtheron

    Like a lot of the thumbs up here seem to suggest, this album did take me a while to get going, but alas, since I am an Isis and Tones worshipper, I gave it the benefit of the doubt and listened to it a few more times.

    Gotta say, Future Warrior, Mission Sunset and Shortwave Radio alone make this album a solid 4 stars. While not the album I – and it sounds like most of you – envisioned, it has its place. For example, bike riding at sunset along the water. Meshuggah isn’t quite the right pairing, while this does rather nicely.

    If I can encourage any of you to give it another listen when you’re feelin chill. Do it. It may just hit the spot.

  • frog

    This is a serious grower. Didn’t seem like much at first but I think it’s fantastic now. For the doubters, give it a few more spins as a whole.

  • changefly

    Unlike most Isis fans, I actually really enjoyed their natural progression towards more abstract, refined, and artsy mellow vibe. This album is exactly what I hoped for, beautiful, somber, reflective and a great backdrop for my painting.

  • Porpoise Orifice

    Future warrior in Plato’s Republic book III.