Palm Reader

Sleepless

Written by: KW on 03/01/2021 19:55:50

Apart from the obvious whirlwind of shit that was 2020, music fans could at least rejoice with some stellar albums to tie things over while we wait for this all to blow over. In the hardcore/metalcore space, Loathe and END delivered some of the most bone-rattling pieces earlier in the year, but I think the crowning achievement has to go to “Sleepless” from England’s post-hardcore outfit Palm Reader who did one last final sprint in the end of November to secure themselves on many end of the year lists.

“Sleepless” is quite simply as close to a flawless album as we came in 2020. It is an album that covers a wide range of sounds while still having a crystal clear direction. Whether it’s the more ethereal cuts like the opener “Hold/Release”, the skull-crushing, heavy grooves of the rager “Stay Down”, the gloomy, brooding darkness of “A Bird and It’s Feathers” or the ear worm-y, fantastic clean vocal performances of “Ending Cycle” and “Willow”, the perfect introductory first half of this record floored me completely upon first listen. Palm Reader masters some phenomenal songwriting chops that keep things incredibly catchy while boasting enough experimentation with tempo, time and melodic facades to keep things interesting. As such, it’s an album that sounds familiar to Palm Reader fans while at the same time being something completely different to earlier works such as “Braille”.

The second half sees the sound turning the more atmospheric notes of the album up a notch, led by the cinematic instrumental cut “Islay”, which almost sounds like the OST to a depressing, modern western film with its weeping blues instrumentation. “False Thirst” continues the melancholic sensibilities with grandiose atmosphere where especially the last 2 minutes makes my skin crawl with the harrowing screams and down-tuned guitars, getting quite close to Deftones sounding in a phenomenally effective outro. But then there is the closer “Both Ends of the Rope” which has to be my top spot for album closer of the year as well, wrapping every sound found on the album up in a nice bow - it’s wide and melodic but also drops like a boulder into a pummeling breakdown and a soaring ending melody with layers upon layers of guitars and organs. It is simply a huge track in the truest sense of the word.

This is without a doubt the magnum opus of Palm Reader so far and it will be exciting to see whether this was just a case of lightning in a bottle or the sign of a band hitting their stride on the way to rise to the all time upper echelons of the aggressive rock sphere. The only small thing I could have wished for was another banger as heavy as “Stay Down” as another cathartic piece to the anger I’m sure many have felt in the last year, but when the quality of what’s on display here is this high, this kind of criticism just drowns into obscurity. Even though the record has only been out for a little over a month at this point, I am quite sure it is already my most listened to album of all of 2020. It is an utter masterpiece in my eyes and I am so happy that it seems to be getting the band at least some of the recognition they deserve for this outstanding piece of work.

Download: Stay Down, Ending Cycle, A Bird and It’s Feathers, False Thirst, Both Ends of the Rope
For the fans of: Norma Jean, Rolo Tomassi, Svalbard, Deftones
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.11.2020
Church Road Records

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