It feels like Palm Reader have been around forever. The Nottingham noisemakers released their first album, ‘Bad Weather’, all the way back in 2013, and had been gigging relentlessly for a couple years prior to that, having formed in 2011.
Having shared stages with the likes of Touché Amoré and Gallows back in the day, they’ve taken a bit of time out away from the road recently to work on ‘Braille’, their first full-length since 2015’s ‘Beside The Ones We Love’, and are back to remind us all just how much hard work pays off.
Leading the charge is ‘Swarm’, an explosive juggernaut comprised of frenetic guitars, guttural screams, and a heavy dose of melody. ‘Internal Winter’ follows in much the same vein, a The Dillinger Escape Plan-esque techy romp that’s big on beat and attitude. It’s a gritty, abrasive, yet cohesive start, but the best is yet to come, and the middle of the album is where things really step up.
‘Inertia’ sees frontman Josh Mckeown venture into clean vocal territory with blinding results. “I’ve felt this hell, I’ve watched it breed / I’ve known it to burn inside of me,” he bellows: inner turmoil and discord is a common theme throughout the record, and the lyrics are packed with emotion. Fleshing out the centre of the record is ‘Coalesce’, a sprawling epic, vibrant and textured, whilst ‘The Turn’ is a classic circle-pit inducing rager that oozes atmosphere.
There’s always been a metallic edge to Palm Reader‘s brand of hardcore, and it’s ever present here, woven in with Every Time I Die-esque grooves, and manic, punky drums from Dan Olds. Particularly gorgeous are the instrumental interludes ‘Breach’ and ‘Dorothy’, both featuring stunning performances from guitarists Andy Gillan and Sam Rondeau-Smith. They give the album pace and rigidity, and as a whole there’s an air of finesse and maturity that only comes from a band who’ve slogged their guts out through experimentation and have finally found what sticks.
‘Beside The Ones We Love’ was no doubt a solid record, but ‘Braille’ is leaps and bounds ahead. It’s the sound of a band that have truly found their feet, and indisputably the highlight of their career so far. It may feel like Palm Reader have been around forever, but if this album is anything to go by, they’ve only just gotten started.