Palmer: The Re(Inter)view

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I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of good post metal this year, and this experimental Swiss band is keeping the standards high.

PalmPalmer Surrounding the Voider has been around for a long time, despite this upcoming album only being their third LP. I was pretty hooked on first listen, so I naturally wondered why I hadn’t noticed them before. Going back to some of their older material, it found it to be good, but it probably wouldn’t have hooked me back in 2011, so I asked them:

Six years is a long time between albums. What has the band been up to, and how was your songwriting ability able to grow so much if you’re not constantly putting out material?

We all have a lot going on. So when we put our heads together and decided on making another album, we first booked the studio a year in advance, so basically there was no point of return after that. We started going through all the material we had collected over the past few years and mixed it together with new ideas. Our first Surrounding The Void rehearsal was very inspiring and helped us get the whole process started and we eventually got into a kind of flow. Moreover, I guess having a deadline helped us build up some positive pressure as well.

One of the first things I noticed about this album is that a good many of the tracks follow a similar song structure. They start with a good riff, switch to something different at the midsection, then return and conclude with the original riff (with a few alterations and usually increased intensity). “Home is Where I Lead You” is a well-paced song, starting with alarming aggressiveness, dipping down for a short break, then returning to conclude with that excellent Meshuggah-like riff. This trend in the songwriting comes up again with “Digital Individual”, but this time with a nice prog solo sandwiched between.

If you just listened to these two songs, the progginess might seem out of place, but thrown in there in the track four slot, “Artein” is seven minutes of solid ethereal post-rock with that prog-metal style guitar solo again. With the heavy post-metalness of the core sound, I can’t quite tell how I feel about these genre-interruptions. Does it make the album less cohesive, or does it show interesting diversity? I can see it being argued either way, but I am almost always on the side against pigeonholing your sound, so I’m not complaining. While they might not really blend together perfectly, each style is very well done in its own right. I wanted to know where this variety came from:

Throughout the album, you guys demonstrate a few wildly different styles of metal, from post to prog, and maybe even a little hardcore and post-rock. Where are all these influences coming from, and how do you decide what the range the album should be?

Each of us has a different kind of musical background. Our bass player, for example, plays double bass in a Jazz trio and in a Mambo orchestra as well. I listen to a lot of Jazz such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Snarky Puppy, Allan Holdsworth, etc. We did not have a masterplan as such; it all happened naturally and I hope you can hear that. Everything is possible, we are not afraid of giving other music styles a place within the Palmer universe.

“Misery” slows things down a little and lets the punching vocals take the lead. My Isis obsession leaves a soft spot for this style, with the slow melodic groove attempting to carry my thoughts away, but the vocals keeping me in the present. It’s a bizarre and lovely sensation, having your focus pulled in two directions at once.

The pinnacle of this album comes with the penultimate song “Rising”. Here they actually do an exceptional job of blending the prog guitar with some of the post-metal stylings in the first two minutes, shift to an absolute beast of a melodic post-metal rhythm, then slightly slow down to lower your guard just to finish with “that thing” that I love about post metal: The lull that leads directly into an explosive riff that puts your nerves on overload. Goddamn, that is a good song.

Lastly, I wanted to ask about the theme of the album. The vague lyrics seem to point anger at anything you might want it to, so I wanted to know:

Is there a lyrical or thematic motive behind Surrounding the Void that you would be willing to tell us about?

If you want to boil down the essence of the album into one word, you can probably say that its main theme is relationships. Relationships between man and woman, between friends and former friends, between people of different groups or even toward yourself. We live in a world of relationships. You cannot interact or even exist without acknowledging that you are in some way or another influenced by the relationship with people and things surrounding you. Surrounding The Void tries to look into these relationships, and what can happen if those relationships are one-sided.

Overall, Surrounding the Void is a true coming-to-form album for these guys, and I am looking forward to seeing where it leads them. I guess home is where it will lead them. Song title jokes. Anyway, I’m giving this a solid 4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell.

NEW_TOILETSCALE_4_of_5

Surrounding the Void is out February 23 through Czar of Bullets. Also, give them some love on Facebook.

“Divergent” premiered over at Sludgelord.

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • He Man

    I am Adam, Prince of Eternia, Defender of the secrets of Castle Grayskull.

    This is Cringer, my fearless friend.

    Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword and said “By the power of Grayskull, I have the power!”

    Cringer became the mighty BattleCat and I became He-man, the most powerful man in the universe.

    Only three others share this secret: our friends the Sorceress, Man-At-Arms and Orko. Together we defend Castle Grayskull from the evil forces of Skeletor.

    • Sid Vicious Promos

      Welcome to the Toilet He Man.

    • Señor Jefe El Rosa

      HAIL! MIGHTY WARRIOR!

      • He Man

        Here in Eternia Manowar is the most popular band and Metallica is off most people’s radar. Only Skeletor and his bumbling henchmen listen to Metallica AFAIK.

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          A fitting band for mighty warriors of the realm!

          • He Man

            Indeed.

        • tigeraid

          Truly a kingdom after our own hearts.

    • Hans Moleman

      I always wanted to ask: what gave you the idea to hold up your sword and yell precisely that? How many other phrases did you try?

      • He Man

        I got it on the second try. (My first phrase was some ode to Teela’s magnificent boobies.)

  • Howard Dean

    Guy 1: Dude, what the fuck should we name our band?

    Guy 2: How the fuck should I know, man? I just got back from my time as a guardsman at the Vatican, and now I’m about to eat this Toblerone while planning my holiday to Lake Geneva.

    Guy 1: But we need to let the label know in like five minutes! Gosh!

    Guy 2: [biting chocolate] Oh, I can’t wait for the World Economic Forum in Davos. Gonna be so much fun.

    Guy 1: Fuck you, you’re no help, asshole.

    Guy 2: I wonder if Peter Thiel is going to be at Davos this year. He’d make a great Swissman.

    Guy 1: Here’s a name: How about Palmer?

    Guy 2: As in Arnold, the legendary American golfer with the eponymous beverage?

    Guy 1: No, of course not. Don’t be silly.

    Guy 2: Than Palmer who?

    Guy 1:

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/ByIhbqM8t18/hqdefault.jpg

    Guy 2: FUCKING GENIUS!

    • KyleJMcBride

      Nice.

      • Howard Dean

        I thought it was pretty funny, too. Many of the others did not, however.

        You’ll cowards aren’t even addicted to love!

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    I really enjoy when you do your reinterviews, such a great approach to everything.

    In regards to your opening statement, it appears as though there is a good amount of quality across all genres so far this year.

    • Joaquin Stick

      Agreed, though I was thinking more that I was a little down on post-metal last year, besides North of course.

      • KyleJMcBride
        • Joaquin Stick

          Kellogg or GTFO

          • KyleJMcBride

            Both companies have good bran flakes.

          • He Man
          • Black Smallbeard

            only Raisin Bran Crunch is real

          • KyleJMcBride

            NO RAISINS.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            EXTRA RAISINS

          • Black Smallbeard

            THE KEY COMPONENT IS CRUNCH

          • KyleJMcBride

            For crunch I go with Quaker “all-natural” cereal.(IOW, Quaker gran ola).

          • He Man

            Granola constipates the Prince of Eternia and causes me to spend more time on the porcelain throne than my father spends on his golden one.

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            Raisins are the worst.

          • KyleJMcBride

            I don’t mind them, but I prefer just flakes with 1% milk and sugar.

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            NO MILK, NO SUGAR, NO RAISINS, NO FLAKES
            only the bowl

          • Howard Dean

            I think we all know that KJM is a fan of the bowl, if you know what I mean. huehuehue.

          • KyleJMcBride

            jajajaja

          • KyleJMcBride

            That could work.

          • Black Smallbeard

            1% milk isnt even milk.

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            It ain’t milk unless you yank it out of your own nipples.

          • Black Smallbeard
          • KyleJMcBride

            Whole milk is too much for me, and skim makes me gag.

          • Howard Dean

            2% MASTER RACE

            Seriously, it’s the perfect blend.

          • Black Smallbeard

            i need SupremeKrieg to come in here and call you both FALSE

          • Howard Dean

            HEAVY CREAM OR GTFO

            I grew up drinking whole, but made the switch to 2% as an adult. Whole milk is great, but it’s a fuckload of lots of things that aren’t great for you.

            Also: SupremeKrieg doesn’t like death metal. He’s a bitch.

          • Black Smallbeard
          • Black Smallbeard

            my own window for death metal is exceedingly small these days too, though

          • Howard Dean

            But being an extreme metal fan and calling all death metal shit is akin to saying you are a fan of beef but steak is terrible.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            He’d probably say something about milk being “fvcking untrue” or whatnot

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Whole Milk.

          • Black Smallbeard
          • Joaquin Stick

            Thumbs Up Emoji.

      • He Man

        In today’s story we learned that Joaquin was a bit prejudiced and unaccepting of modern hipsters. Once he realized that hipsters were people too, and citizens of Eternia just like him, he opened his mind and heart to his metal neighbors. We all can be prejudiced sometimes but Joaquin’s example reminds us that we are all the same…no matter how much noisy racket we commit to vinyl.

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        Ah, I gotcha.

        Nonetheless, I’ve noticed some great albums from a little but of everywhere. And it is good!

  • Reinterviews >>>>>>
    Also, really digging the music

  • Howard Dean

    In other “bands-using-a-surname-as-a-band-name-even-though-it’s-not-their-surname” news: There’s apparently an all-female Serbian speed metal band named Jenner:

    http://www.metal-archives.com/images/3/5/4/0/3540423159_photo.jpg?1235
    http://www.metal-archives.com/images/3/5/4/0/3540423159_logo.jpg?1235

    http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Jenner/3540423159

  • Rain Poncho W.

    I dig this format and the way you tie it all together. Noice!

  • Waynecro

    Excellent article, JS! I’ll have to give Palmer another thorough listen. Thanks!