Release Date: March 5th 2021
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When an album has a title as bold and direct as ‘Joy Is Temporary, Pain Is Constant’, it should be apparent from the off that the proceedings aren’t going to be all gumdrops and rainbows.
While you may be forgiven for anticipating some form of blistering screamo or depressive doom ala The Body, Swedish trio Paleskin (all formerly of the hardcore band Heartaches) actually deal in a unique blend of emo-trap, metal, ambient gothic soundscapes, and subtle, occult nods to witch house.
Pulling from vastly differing influences, the precise, glossy production and overall vocal performances and manipulations owe a debt to Matty Healy and George Daniel‘s work in The 1975, only if they were members of GothBoiClique, while the subtle use of distorted, distant shrieking harsh vocals echoes the blackened electronic screamo-ambience of Cremation Lily.
There is a minor sense of sonic uncertainty, however, as compositionally the majority of material feels like it can’t decide whether its strength lies in a traditional full-band set up or in a more minimal production soundscape. Eerie, ominous notes tempered by 808s and crisp, cold hi-hats fall flat at times when attempting to provide an ample backdrop for the personal, confessional, and direct lyricism on display.
Cuts like ‘Yellow Ceiling’ and ‘Death Of Me’ long for some extra bite to add a sense of heft or gravitas to the work, whereas they lack the dynamics to solely shoulder the weight of a song on their own minimal merit. This makes several tracks feel as if they’re just starting to become interesting as they reach their close, and for a 27-minute album, that amount of unintentional filler is hazardous.
‘Where The Light Fades’ offers a delicate, predominantly acoustic number that serves as proof that the trio have greatness within them, but not every initial idea should perhaps be committed to record. If the anthemic, stadium-ready ‘Leaving’ is any indication, Paleskin have a plethora of influences to draw from that clearly extends to the sonics and lofty heights of the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and Architects. They also evidently possess several differing visions of who they are as a band, and that’s a totally natural state of flux to be in upon dropping your debut full-length.
Eventually, the choice will have to be made between the differing styles they currently weave together, or a discernible effort must be put in to strike a stronger counterbalance between the two, as the admittedly creative production begins to fall flatter the further the album runs on. The puzzling ‘Pain Is Constant’ is a baffling closer, seething with an outdated nu-metal aggro vibe in tribute to early Mushroomhead or Slipknot, that wouldn’t have been out of place on an early 2000s wrestling video game.
It’s a perplexing, underwhelming end to a project teeming with potential, yet marred by uncertainty. Hopefully, going forward, Paleskin‘s missteps will be temporary, and the progression constant.
Lover of choons, flums, bukes and such. I like making music. I like writing about music. I like burgers and emo-trap. Also suffer from a slight case of knowitallism. I wish every song had a breakdown.