Kill The Rhythm
When a band releases a début that not only turns heads but lands them major tour supports, festival slots and regular mentions on year-end lists both nationally and internationally, the anticipation for that all-important sophomore album is naturally high. Palm Reader are obviously doing something right; Woking's hardcore heroes gaining almost universal praise for 2013's unbridled beast Bad Weather.
Yet as strong as Bad Weather is, it sounds positively pedestrian in comparison to the technically astute, unhinged chaos that Palm Reader now bathe in, balancing raucous and intricate guitar playing with prominent melodies and modern hardcore belligerence, invoking - to a certain extent - The Dillinger Escape Plan's convulsive rhythmic pandemonium and the quirky, punk-fuelled venom of pre-2011 Gallows (themselves In At The Deep End alumni). Comparisons aside, Palm Reader undeniably own their sound all the more this time round, making Beside The Ones We Love a genuine, riotous statement of intent for the southerners.
The drumming is no small contributor to this; with Dan Olds now fully established within the band, his defining rhythms and proficient execution dictate the direction of the album rather than merely serving to exist out of necessity. In fact, the progression both as individuals and as a collective is immediately apparent as I Watched the Fire Chase My Tongue rips through four minutes of turbulent fury; vocalist Josh McKeown full of fire from the off and impressing throughout with both his deranged screams and rasping, impassioned melodies.
Sing Out, Survivor is where the band's ambitions and audacious mentality first truly come into play; the slow burning, ominous landscapes paving the way for a rousing modern hardcore anthem that is certain to get the proverbial blood flowing in a live environment. The same can be said for Travelled Paths - the stripped back songwriting coupled with McKeown's zealous demeanour adds depth to an album already brimming with animalistic energy and creative flashes. Elsewhere, Stacks and Black Hand sees Palm Reader firing on all cylinders; the incredibly tight instrumentation making the complexities within the songs sound instinctive and unforced.
Eight minute closer Unabridged is exactly what defines Palm Reader as a worthy entity in their own right; a coalescence of all elements of the band's arsenal to create a memorable finale chock full of emotive energy and pounding clamour. They have a distinctly modern sound, but even the cynics who would reject progression within the genre will struggle to find fault here as the band go about melding abrasive hardcore punk with technical prowess, solid melodies and gang vocals to create an album full of confidence and passion. It’s a fairly lengthy ride for a hardcore album but rather than being fleshed out with filler material, Palm Reader sweat and bleed every well-earned second of this release. Their growth over a relatively short period is clear for all to hear, and this is yet another exciting addition to the healthy and ever-growing UK hardcore roster. Expect to see Beside The Ones We Love on many more lists towards the end of 2015.