Released on Ipecac, 2013
If you’ve missed the post-metallic majesty of Isis since they called it quits three years ago, get your hands on Palms – and prepare to fly.
Palms is what happens when Jeff Caxide, Aaron Harris and Bryant Clifford Meyer finally emerge from their post-Isis existential fug to decide that yes, they WILL make a record and it will be with each other
but it won’t be instrumental. They want a singer. Question is, after thirteen years with Aaron Turner on vocal command in the old band, who’s gonna fit their bill?
Step forward Deftones frontman Chino Moreno. After striking up a hiking friendship (yes, really) with drummer Aaron Harris, it’s clear he’s keen and wants in on this new post-Isis project.
ISIS + DEFTONES: big-name rock merger or what?
Sure is. But whereas some all-star join-ups sound assembled and bolted together instead of organically grown – Audioslave’s debut being a case in point – this one is seamless and effortless and fully formed from the off. A strong Isis current flows throughout but it’s not the raw, guttural Isis of Celestial, nor does it dominate. No, this record takes the clean vocals and spacious musicality of Wavering Radiant (Ghost Key, Hand of the Host) as a starting point and then bursts skyward. This is a record that takes you places.
Musically that’s no surprise, given the pedigree of the players and the nature of their previous band(s), but in the same way that Om took their own legacy – Dopesmoker’s dense mantra – into more airy terrain, Palms do a similar evolution job with the layers, surges and flows that defined their Ipecac forefathers. Future Warrior’s hypnotic intensity and Mission Sunset’s slow build to bruising/beautiful low-end payoff – one of THE peaks of this expansive set – are most Isis-like, but there’s other stuff going on too. Electronic hues usher in a cool, hushed ambience, none more so than on the gently euphoric dream-state closer Antarctic Handshake. You get a sense of elevation, movement and open spaces, if that means anything. Twilights and sunsets and pre-storm stillness. That’s Palms.
Crucial to this new ID for the ex-Isis three is, surely, Chino Moreno. Deftones revel in both sensitivity and rage, and Moreno’s vocals here traverse that same spectrum. Sometimes hushed, sometimes screamed but never hostile, his soulful yearn sounds caught in the throes of ascension – just not departed yet.
And somehow, that’s exactly where the album belongs. Music to be swept with, and lifted by.
‘Ascending into heaven
while staring into hell.
We’re staring into heaven
descending into hell.’
Lyrics from Shortwave Radio. Says it all.