Few records have impacted me like the sole full-length of Isis/Deftones supergroup Palms. The glistening waves of synth and modulated guitar and Chino Moreno’s gorgeous vocal performance against warlike drums and thick explosions of distortion expanded my perception of what metal could be. The record was stripped of all the tropes you might think of from heavy music, yet it had an undeniably metallic DNA that was evident even through all of the dreamy shoegaze they created.
And for ten years, I’ve spun that record unable to find anything that satisfied me the same way. Sure, there was the odd dreamy Deftones track like “Entombed” or “Cherry Waves” that scratched close to the itch, or some dreamy instrumental passages in later Isis records that felt just as aqueous. But ultimately, even those moments were even more dissatisfying since they were a sharp reminder of the lack.
But. In preparation for the project’s tenth anniversary, they have released a two-song double single, “Opening Titles/End Credits.” And for those of us who have been eagerly awaiting more Palms, it is a balm to the soul.
It’s familiar territory to anyone familiar with the project—and that’s exactly what we want. Unfortunately though, that’s because these tracks were unreleased from the original run of the supergroup instead of newly written songs. However, that sting only lasts a moment, as the release offers ten minutes of gazy post metal that Palms does best.
“Opening Titles” starts with a swirl of guitar feedback and rumbling synths, swelling to a crunchy bass line that is joined by a menacing drum groove and a wash of intertwining guitars, one overdriven and the other clean with a thick coat of modulation. Chino’s vocals slide out of his throat with a syrupy sweetness, jumping up in his range as the band builds energy on the chorus. After two rounds of verses and choruses, the guitars engage their distortions and play a low minor chord progression, Chino’s voice increasing in grit on repeat until he screams, ushering a breakdown based on the opening bass line.
“End Credits” is instrumental, but is no less enjoyable. A skittering drum shuffle drives ambient guitars and chorus-heavy bass. While the members of Palms always mentioned The Cure in their influences, this track really showcases just how closely they’ve studied the glittering gloom of Disintegration’s atmospheres. If you listen really hard, you can practically hear Robert Smith moaning over it. At least you can until the track explodes with post metal heaviness toward the end.
The two tracks are a brilliant reminder of what made Palms so captivating in the first place, embracing dreamy atmospheres and cathartic heft without feeling formulaic or rote. One can only hope that revisiting these tracks would make Palms themselves eager for more.
Opening Titles/End Credits is available now on Palm’s Bandcamp page.