Produced by Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, Of Mice & Men, In Flames), “Erase The Pain” is the fourth studio album from New Jersey boys Palisades. Following the success of their Electronicore single “High and Low” from their debut full length “Outcasts” back in 2013, that sound inspired their standout release and sophomore album “Mind Games” in 2014. However, the departure of co-lead vocalist and bassist Brandon “Romeo” Sidney and programmer, synthesizer & turntable guru Earl Halasan in 2016 lead to a style shift for the bands 2017 self-titled release. Infusing more post-hardcore stylings into their sound and dropping the electronics almost completely, despite the arrival of DJ & Producer Christian “DJ Graves” Muchozuki alongside new bassist Brandon Elgar came as something of a surprise. That sound shift brought the band almost full circle to something akin to the sound that they started out with on their debut EP “I’m Not Dying Today”.
‘Vendetta’ opens up the album with a 12 second programmed introduction before its opening riff kicks in. The lyrically Nu-Metal inspired fusion of introspection and relationship analysis is something Palisades have had since day one and there is no change here. If anything the more post-hardcore or melodic Metalcore sound gives the sound more maturity and perhaps that is the aim. There is no point of difference in terms of guitar solos or breakdowns at all, instead the band opt for straightforward mid-tempo riffs with buried electronics. Title track ‘Erase the Pain’ continues that vibe but with more progression in the guitar sound, building up players and pace before dropping out to start the build again. The buried electronics are more prevalent on this cut, but it’s more of a looped affair than the dominant force it has been on previous material. Vocally and lyrically there is a distinct Linkin Park influence on this one which shouldn’t come as a surprise as they are of the next generation of bands to come around. ‘Fade’ introduces more of the electronics, using them to alternate with the guitar work so you have them during the verse and the step to the guitar work in the chorus, which has a sing-a-long vibe to it. It’s a song that not only improves with repeated listens but also has more bite in the later half, something that will please older fans.
The album’s lead single ‘War’ also has more of the bands older, ‘core sound in it with more aggression in the guitar work and vocal delivery. The drum sound is improved on this one, which has an overall better mix and flow to it with some better riff patterns and icy buried electronics. As with ‘Fade’, the vocals get more aggressively delivered in the final verse and chorus which is a classical touch from the production chair. ‘Ways To Disappear’ then slows the pace down for a mid-tempo melancholic affair that showcases more of the melodic side of what the band have to offer. There is a very small tempo difference between the chorus that is backed by a bigger guitar sound and the verse sections. At 2 seconds short of 4 minutes, it’s the longest cut on the album and doesn’t need to be. Stripping out chorus and verse passage and knocking it down to the 3 minute mark would actually improve it as it is a bit drawn out. That being said, it does grow on you with repeated listens but not that much. ‘Ghost’ threatens more than it delivers with its bouncier opening riff that fades down to some melodic bits while the verse vocals play out. That bouncier riffage returns during the chorus passage and once again the track improves as it gets towards the end with an almost tribal drum bridge around the 2 minute mark that gives the whole thing a lift. ‘Fragile Bones’ starts off slowly but fortunately when you’re thinking it’s more of the same it gets going at the 38 second mark with some much needed aggression. It doesn’t go as far as it could, instead opting to keep a level of control but the heavier parts are distinctly heavier with more drive while the melodic parts are in better contrast to some of the earlier material. If ‘Ways To Disappear’ was one that could do with cutting short, ‘Fragile Bones’ is actually one that could do with a bit more.
The shortest track on the album is ‘Push’ at 162 seconds and builds from a programmed intro through a mid-tempo guitar lead chorus that has the nuance of menace that will escape you on the first few plays. What makes the track is the more aggressive bursts. At the 96 second mark a screamed version of the repeating post-chorus appears with a thump while the closing elongated scream from frontman Louis “Lou” Miceli is overdue in the album at this point and adds that edge that several of the songs have been distinctly lacking. ‘Patient’ is a slow and melancholy tune that has an interesting vocal play off between Brandon Elgar and Miceli as well as some interesting harmonies. When the guitars kick in mid-song, they continue the drive of the song without taking away the atmospheric build of the first half. Again, it’s one that the first time around seems to completely lack but then grows with repeated listens. If you’re prepared to give it the chance that is. ‘Shed My Skin’ is the album closer and it has much more going for it that some of the mid-album songs. The opening is a throwback to the Electronicore sound while the dark atmospherics and build into a more driven chorus section has distinct 1999 era Nu-Metal overtones. It feels like it could go on another verse and chorus before fading out but instead cuts to a dead stop when you least expect it.
“Erase The Pain” isn’t a long album. 10 tracks averaging 3 minutes 20 seconds and none reaching the 4 minute mark, but it feels longer than it is, especially the first few times around. As with the bands self-titled effort, there are several songs that lack a point of difference and a guitar solo, breakdown or increased electronics could easily lift some of the tunes from being more than just more of the same. That being said, the album has a sound and it carries that sound well. Each tune has nuances that come out of the wood work with multiple listens, but you have to be prepared to invest in it to get the most out of it. [5/10]
2. ‘Erase the Pain’
5. ‘Ways To Disppear’
7. ‘Fragile Bones’
10. ‘Shed My Skin’
“Erase The Pain” by Palisades is out now via Rise Records