PALESKIN return to make a strong statement, unfurling their ongoing evolution with a glorious marriage of the melodic and the metallic on new EP HONEY POISON.
Release date: December 16, 2022 | Independent | Instagram | Facebook | Stream/Purchase
‘Tis the season to be jolly, although Swedish trio PALESKIN might disagree. Their debut album – 2021’s not-so-festive Joy Is Temporary, Pain Is Constant – was an interesting melding of metal’s characteristic passionate delivery set against a predominantly digitised backdrop. By comparison, latest EP HONEY POISON sees the outfit lean less on their electronic inclinations. Instead, they serve up a meatier (though shorter) outing that’s more aggressive, more advanced in craftsmanship, and bolder in execution than its predecessor.
This time around, the tunes pack a more severe and immediate bite from the get-go than last year’s album. As the robust, distorted chords and crisp snare of “SEE ME AGAIN” kick in, a swift and dismissive comparison to Deftones is likely to roll off the tongue – but hold that thought. While elements of influence from the Sacramento stalwarts are apparent, I would argue that the spectrum of sound laid out by PALESKIN over these six tracks merits more than the disservice of hastily claiming identicality to any artist – especially one whose popularity is arguably entrenched for so many in nostalgia.
If you’re insistent on likenesses, more comparable peers are Moodring and Loathe, or the more obscure Silence Is A Virus. You see, PALESKIN share the same charisma and dynamic songwriting that entices listeners to these artists, welding their distortion and rawness to melodious, floating passages that ooze the kind of atmospheric romanticism likely to tempt those who prefer their flavour of heavy to retain some glimmer amidst the guttural. “STATIC PATTERNS” strikes a particularly familiar chord to Loathe with its opening beat, followed by a chugging riff from Jimmy Fransèn that truly gets the blood pumping. This all eventually gives way to harmonised vocals that showcase Casper Frisk’s impressive range in the track’s final ascent.
Key to the trio’s success is how PALESKIN have given HONEY POISON a wider reach through their sonic evolution. They’ve made a huge leap forward by stepping back from the sizeable presence of trap-inspired percussion employed previously, and it pays dividends to the end product in terms of accessibility. I hear the angry metal mob forming outside my home as I type this, but accessibility is undoubtedly positive in a world where too many people increasingly gatekeep the life (and fun) out of music discovery. We’ve all been there, we’ve all seen the memes. PALESKIN, like Bring Me the Horizon and others, exemplify how bands can move beyond the restraints of their past while retaining their strengths. Their music thrives, offering a compromise of noise and nuance for those looking to venture into darker, heavier musical territory without the whim to go full-on DAEVA.
Before you finish tying me to that stake, don’t think for one second that this means I’m pitching a sheep in wolf’s clothing – this EP has teeth and it will sink them in. Yes, it’s true that the record is heavily populated with a certain mellowness that trickles forth from the glistening clean guitars, soft ambient pads, and sung vocals. If you pay attention, it’s also true that walls of distortion are here, with guitar far more prevalent and powerful than before. There are thrashing cymbals and lacerating shouts that offset the delicateness with disarming intensity. If you don’t believe me, “EVERYTHING” has some highly unexpected blast beats that would like a repeatedly pulverising word with you.
It’s this variety and the ease with which PALESKIN shift between tones that make the journey through HONEY POISON such an enjoyable listen. Slow burning, memorable chorus hooks are utilised to great effect, but only tell part of each song’s story. They star alongside melancholic balladry steeped in reverberating guitar washes on “IN TWO”, while the same dissipating characteristics take on a more ominous persona in opener “SEE ME AGAIN”. Craving something more like Joy is Temporary…? Head to “EVERMORE”: the electronic beats scattered here complement shoegazey fretwork and repeated vocal refrains that rekindle vibes of Hundredth circa Somewhere Nowhere. Then, the titular closer gives drummer Adrian Bellan ample opportunity to unleash the full expanse of his kit over the course of its lingering minutes, fading into nothingness without warning in a move that left me marginally dissatisfied that there wasn’t more to it.
Is it rock? Is it metal? Is it important? No, because whatever category you pin it in, HONEY POISON is great to listen to, and that’s what matters most. This PALESKIN EP may only clock in at a fraction over 20 minutes, but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for with a darkly saccharine intensity that lingers in the ears like poison. The trio sound bigger, bolder, better than before, and this EP is well worth treating yourself to this festive season.
Photo credit: Leon Remstedt