Palaces – Hellas Chasma Review

Hellas Chasma doesn’t fuck around, so neither will we. “Swarm” launches out of the gate with some serious gusto, just a squeal of feedback, a quick stomping rhythm section intro, and a scream to let you know it’s Go Time. If you don’t immediately have the urge to disrespect your surroundings, there may be no hope for you. This fist-pumping ripper sets the stage for a rowdy, rollicking 40 minutes of noisy rock, punk, and hardcore.

Palaces has been on hiatus for 6 years, and it’s been 8 since they released their debut, Tarnish. We could speculate wildly about what the band has been up to in that time (Losing members to mob-related RICO charges? Long walks in the forest and woodworking projects? Learning how to genetically engineer giant piranhas?) but one thing is clear: Palaces has found their muse and are stronger than ever.

2012’s Tarnish showed promise but was unrefined. Light Pupil Dilate had run its course, and Palaces was ready to take a few of those members and head in a more energetic, noise rock + hardcore direction. There were some great riffs and killer sounds, but the songwriting felt incomplete, and the vocals were often a weak link. With a few more lineup shuffles (and that presumably failed gene manipulation project), Palaces arrives in 2020, freshly bolstered by Jeremy “Bumpy Bronson” Weeks on bass and vocals, along with original members Eric Searle on guitar and vocals, and Jonathan Balsamo tearing up the drumkit.

Release Date: September 18, 2020. Label: Independent.
Hellas Chasma has the raucous trio firing on, well, three cylinders, but that’s all they need. The vocals are caustic and passionate, with shades of Greg Puciato’s trademark howl. Palaces brings a mix of fellow ATLiens Whores, noise rockers KEN Mode, and genre giants Converge (particularly in the drums), without sounding derivative or stale. There’s also a touch of grind in the filthy bass tone and speedier riffs. The whole album has a natural, organic feel, with each musician playing off the other two and enhancing the entire sound. Without ever being overtly flashy, each member shines at various points throughout Hellas Chasma. Take “Finger on the Pulse,” which opens with a speedy, kick-snare beat, then layered with a (ahem) pulsing bass riff, and then is topped off with the addition of rocking guitar. The pulse spreads out as vocals are introduced, and the riffs breathe with the song, expanding and then racing along to the original beat. It’s the kind of ride that leaves your hair blown back, and ears ringing from the squealing feedback of the closing riffs.

Above all, the songwriting and album pacing is impeccable here. Beginning with a face-kicking opener and strong initial salvo of songs? Check. Slowly incorporating unexpected but complementary elements like the melodic vocals floating in the background of “Isle of Palms” or the delicate cascading lead guitar of “M7”? That’s a check. Dropping a seven minute sprawling epic with melodic vocals now front and center in “Wedge Hammer”? Check! Slamming back to full speed for two final tracks of twisting, mathy rage (with touches of melody remaining)? That’s right boys, we got ourselves another check! Palaces uses tempo and dynamics to maximum effect, so the smashing-face-to-pavement riffs never lose impact, and the few moments of serenity are always a breath of fresh air before the fray consumes you again.

This music demands full volume, full beers, and a venue full of rock-n-roll loving friends. The latter is unlikely for the foreseeable future, but I can heartily recommend Hellas Chasma + Cold Beer. Clear the room of fragile objects and get wild with Palaces.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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