Palisades – Palisades (Review)

Palisades are an electronicore band from New Jersey, USA. Forming in 2011, they’ve just released their third album on January 20th (with Rise Records), a little over two years since their previous album. The album is self-titled, which is an interesting choice for a third record.

Palisades are: Louis Miceli (vocals), Xavier Adames (guitar & backing vocals), Matthew Marshall (guitar & backing vocals), Graves (turntables, keyboards), Brandon Elgar (bass & backing vocals), and Aaron Rosa (drums & percussion).

The band had shared an open letter, describing that they had taken a self-imposed break in order to find who they were and to make this album. With this knowledge, as well as the fact that it is self-titled, there is a sense that the creation of the Palisades album is something very important to Palisades as a band. We were keen to dive deep into the album and get a sense of what was created during this sabbatical.

Palisades starts with “Aggression”. The repeated “no more” feels like a setting of boundaries and setting the space for the album to come. Melodic electronics morph into heavy drums and guitar as the song rolls on. The lyrics are asking for answers by way of violence becoming the norm, as well as separation from humanity, wondering if we as a race will survive what we’re creating with what we accept.

“CAN WE?!”

“Aggression” deftly combines vocals that sound open and pleading as well as fear-laden screamed vocals. The guitars are a stand-out.

“Cold Heart (Warm Blood)” is the second track and begins with questions. The song could be mistaken as pop for the verse sound of light beats and electronics. The choruses amp it up with a vitriolic explosion of screamed (yet altered) vocals, heavy guitar & drums as well as an orchestral sound and harmonies.

Is there love
Strong enough, strong enough?”

The song is a tough one to soak up, hearing the weight of a lover lost in their own questioning about what comes next for them; whether to try and fix what is broken, despite the fact that all they’ve been getting is coldness and lies. Is love for someone strong enough of a force to keep them going in this painful cycle?

“Better Chemicals” has such a searching sound, and is heavy hearted as well as being heavy of sound. It’s a rejection of the self, hating how they feel and wanting ‘better chemicals’ to kill what is going on within them, in order to ‘be more’.

Recycling the bad dreams
So can you tell me how to make it stop short of being dead?”

The outro consists of layers and collisions of sound which would be a great representation of chaos going on within one’s head.

“Fall” is sparking even more feels, just with the thought of a guy angsting over not knowing where he stands in a potential relationship (“I don’t even know if this shit is real”). He’s wanting to dive in and let himself fall head over heels with her, versus stay reserved and it being just a ‘ten night stand‘. But when she’s not clear on what she wants, what can he do?

“She got me sweatin’ don’t know what the hell is wrong with me
Cause I know, she knows that we can’t let it go to waste
Cause I don’t wanna leave it alone with a “ten night stand”
(When you’re out there you just wanna have fun)
Let me try to make you the one, I could be that man”

“Fall” is sung with the emotion you’d expect to find along with this sentiment, together with a powerful sound. Even in the quieter verses the guitar is hovering around the edges waiting for a chance to kick in.

Are we allowed to call an electronicore track ‘funky’? That’s the word that comes to mind when listening to the next track: “Let Down”. The electronic effects and sounds used are the main funky factor, as well as the breaks and pulses. The heaviness of guitars and drums keep it grounded and still powerful as a song about a serious topic. “Let Down” feels like it could be a continuation of “Cold Heart (Warm Blood)” by way of a toxic relationship that has hit a point where giving up is a more appealing solution than to keep on trying. At the outro, a curious wind blows leading us to the next track.

“Dark” feels like a resignation into a pattern of difficulty that’s no fun at all. There is a lightness in sound and vocals that feels ironic when lyrically this feels like a song that should be going hard and heavy. The chorus is heavier, but there’s still a lightness that feels safe and sound and neutral, as though saying “This is how it is”; a numbness to something uncomfortable.

“I don’t really know what’s in these walls
Same house but it don’t feel right
And I’m just holding on alone
While I tell myself that it’s in my mind”

YES! “Through Hell” is the heaviness we didn’t see in “Dark”. “Through Hell” is killer from the get-go with pummeled drums, heavy guitars, and vocals that veer into screams and strong vents. It also goes a little toward explaining the neutral nature of “Dark”; the approach of keeping in control and containing the brokenness and the rage. It feels really good seeing it all coming out in “Through Hell”

So go
I keep pretending I have control
I wear a mask so you’ll never know
I’m bottled up ready to explode
So go”

The focal moments upon drums and guitar are impressively awesome. The outro with crowd vocals backing the question of whether peace and serenity will be found (or not) is such a beautiful moment. Great track.

“Memories” kicks off with an amazing guitar intro that cuts deep. The lightness of vocals belie the weight of what is going on underneath. The chorus is where the heaviness is revealed, and we fall in love with the bass.

To take these dreams
Away from me
Fade this scene
Into the deep
Erase my mind
Cause I can’t sleep
I’ll be fine
Without chasing

“Memories” has such a big sound, including sad strings and powerful screams together with glimpses of kickass guitar riffs and electronics that somehow also match the hurt.

“Hard Feelings” is sick, courtesy of the challenging lyrics, the bass, and everything musical that happens after the choruses. This song has the feel of someone having held their tongue for far too long and it being time to let it all out, with honesty, even if it’s unpopular. Where’s the line drawn between keeping things comfortable for others versus suffering inside ourselves?

I’ve got some hard feelings that I’m working through
And I’ve got some hard feelings I could put on you
I don’t want to”

“Dancing With Demons” describes a soul-searching and a facing up to oneself, searching for life and light in the darkness. There’s passion and fight in the vocals as well as an edge of disgust.

Can you tell that I’m dead inside?
If you only knew”

The heaviness feels like an inner agony relating to being so lost and hurting, and also wanting to be a better person, partner, friend. Another awesome song with a massiveness of sound.

“Personal” is the last track on Palisades. It’s a confrontation with someone who seems to revel in rumours and fakery. It has a catchy melody and I could see this one getting easily stuck in heads. The choruses are grand and massive just like other tracks.

“Head case
You’re so delusional
You’re so
Vain that it hurts
Sell out
Just so that you’ll be seen

Palisades definitely showcased a conversation with light and dark, and wondering how much to reveal or not reveal. The most impressive moments were when Palisades just went for it without holding back and without the element of control, expressing exactly what fit the message being shared. It was curious seeing light or neutral vocals being sung in relating to dark experiences, yet this was exactly the concept that was shared on this album, such as the idea that being brutally honest would be harmful.

Palisades was captivating, and it was enjoyable to watch this dance of heavy and light through the eleven tracks. Definitely worth a listen.

Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it. [Loved the read? Shout Kel a latte.]

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