Supergroups are a hard thing to review fairly. It’s difficult to be a “brand new” band without the prejudice of their prior bands. Palms is a new project featuring 3/5’s Boston based “post metal” band ISIS and Deftones’ vocalist Chino Moreno. Two bands with an established legacy that, by a twist of fate, are two of the few bands that I am not familiar with at all. So my experience with Palms was entirely fresh.
Crypts opened the show. Last I saw this “band”, it was opening for Bosnian Rainbows at The New Parish last year. The set was more than a little boring. They had no stage show whatsoever, and the dark EDM was simply not very interesting. Less than a year later, Crypts have pulled a serious 180 in terms of stage show. Instead of being a laptop project, they were fleshed out with a live drummer, keyboard players, and an actual frontman. Instead of being simply house music, this turned into a sort of “goth LCD Soundystem” type of event. Their vocalist, Steve Snere, slithered around the stage, kind of like a fusion of Axl Rose and Jello Biafra, and his singing alternated between whisper and growl. The songs could still use some TLC, but the band is moving in the right direction.
Palms came out rather casually. Despite how huge the two bands were that make up this band, there was very little “rock star” posturing. They even set up the bulk of their own equipment, which I’m sure is not the case with their day projects. They proceeded to play a set that consisted of the 8 tracks on their debut record. The set was beautiful and calm. Despite both bands being “metal,” this was anything but. There was no heavy riffing, and nothing was remotely moshable. Instead, we had some stunning guitar work, all swirling and delicious. They music reminded me of a cross between The Cure at their darkest, Built To Spill at their most jammy, and Massive Attack if Massive Attack were a 5 piece rock band.
The most impressive element of this band is Moreno’s voice. Typically the mix at Slim’s likes to bury the vocals. Happily, they made sure for this show that the vocals were the most prominent element of the show. He exhibited a range that rivals Mike Patton- his delicate tenor is smooth and warm, and wrapped around the swirling guitars, however he was able to transition to a gutteral growl whenever needed. It was one some of the prettiest music I’ve ever heard under the guise of “metal.” To even further distance themselves from the “heavy” genre, they threw in an obligatory cover to pad the set. The song? “Rave Down” by shoe gaze legends Swervedriver.
This was, quite surprisingly, one of the most thrilling and amazing evenings of music that I’ve ever experienced. I may need to go back and learn about the other bands making up this project.