Palms is a post rock/shoegazer super group made up of Deftones singer Chino Moreno and 3 members of Isis. The first thing you’ll notice about all of the songs on their self-titled debut is that they all lack hooks and grooves to grab your attention. Instead they rely on lengthy guitar soundscapes that focuses heavily on layering shimmering clean guitar tones alongside their fuzzed out counterpart (that sometimes boarder on becoming blue noise) with Chino Moreno’s ethereal voice sitting comfortable in the middle of it all.
Unfortunately the soundscaping that Palms indulges in also happens to be the major pitfall of the album. It becomes apparent early on that the songs lack definition and given that the song lengths average out at almost 8 minutes each, there is little variety and ever fewer memorable moments. This becomes frustrating when the songs sound like they are building up to something but then nothing significant happens, resulting in some rather lengthy songs that don’t appear to have any real momentum behind them.
Sadly the album isn’t what it could have been and while Palms have a lot of style in their well-crafted ambience, they lack the substance in the song writing department that makes an album memorable and engaging. If you hear a single song from Palms then you’ve heard the rest of the album. Stronger song writing would have given it the potential to be a sonic masterpiece but the lack of variety is what holds Palms back.
Artist: The Gathering Album: The West Pole Genre(s): Rock Subgenres(s): Post Rock, Trip Rock Released: 2009 Length: 54 minutes Language(s): English Label(s): Psychonaut
01. When Trust Becomes Sound
03. All You Are
04. The West Pole
05. No Bird Call
06. Capital of Nowhere
07. You Promised Me a Symphony
08. Pale Traces
09. No One Spoke
10. A Constant Run
The West Pole is the first Gathering album since the departure of singer Anneke Van Giersbergen in 2007. She has since been replaced by Silje Wergeland (Octavia Sperati) and The Gathering deceptively approached The West Pole with the mentality of “new singer, new sound” with the misleading mammoth opener When Trust Becomes Sound.
The song is an unexpected post rock number that continuously builds on itself before a questionable background megaphone ramble comes out of nowhere courtesy of guest singer Anne van den Hoogen. Thankfully the guitar buries the megaphone in a fashion most favourable and lets you enjoy the rest of the sterling craftsmanship that has gone into writing and performing it.
After The Gathering waste time not introducing Silje Wergeland she makes a powerful introduction for herself on the even-tempered Treasure. Her performance should remove any doubt from long time Gathering fans that are sceptical of her being able to replace Anneke Van Giersbergen. She easily proves to be a suitable replacement while there are some noticeable similarities between them.
The overly noisy side of The Gathering is short-lived and the mid-paced songs become the theme before they manage to take it down a few more notches beginning with the quelled No Bird Call up to and including Pale Traces, which throw back to the sombre ambience of their 2006 album Home.
Unlike their previous trip rock albums, the distortion drenched guitar has been integrated into their sound to give them a new edge to work with, just not in the way you would expect from the opener. It has definitely push them forward and kept them from rehashing their existing sound and while it would have been exciting to hear The Gathering take on the post rock genre and weave their unique vision around it, The West Pole ends on a well-deserved high note.