Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Album Review: Vacation To Helheim by The Palatines

It's my opinion that Texas based act The Palatines are one of the best bands in pop punk at the moment. 2018's Death From Below was one of my favourite albums of the year and their split release this year with fellow Texan's Destroy Orbison was also superb. In September, the three piece released a new six song EP titled Vacation To Helheim. Given how much I enjoyed the previous two Palatines releases, I got around to listening to this disgustingly late. When I did finally listen to it I was even more disgusted with myself as it's really, really good. Perhaps their best release yet. I'll explain why.

Something I loved about The Palatines from the very first time I heard them was the mix of buzzsaw pop punk ala Teenage Bottlerocket and The Copyrights and the vocal styles of Trevor Keith of Face To Face. It works really well. The first song on Vacation To Helheim is titled Too Poor and that wonderful sound is revisited. The song goes back to The Palatines’ school days and talks about being bullied because their families couldn't afford the "right clothes" and didn't fit in. Up next is Hikikomori. After a little Google search, I discovered that Hikikomori is a psychological condition that makes people shut themselves off from society, sometimes for months on end. This is what the song is about. Unsurprisingly from The Palatines, it's fast paced and relentless throughout. What makes this great though is, despite the speed, it's very easy to sing along with due to the short and stabby way the lyrics are delivered and the simple chant of "hikikomori" to finish the song. All I Need starts slowly but gradually gets faster as the song progresses. This works brilliantly in the song that is about going through a break up and wanting a chance to make things right. The song has more of a classic pop punk feel to it with some nice subtle doo-wop harmonies thrown in, adding a little extra level.

You'll Remember Me originally appeared on the split with Destroy Orbison. It's a fast and raucous song about a night out that went terribly wrong. You'll Remember Me definitely falls into the more rambunctious side of the punk rock genre whilst retaining some pop qualities with some infectious hooks and some catchy lyrics. The penultimate song is named To The Cleaners and sees a return back to the buzzsaw pop punk style. You could easily find this song on a Copyrights album. That not only says something about its sound but also its quality. This is as good as any song the Chicago band have written and The Copyrights are a band I hold with the highest regard so that's a big compliment. To The Cleaners is about being at the end of your tether and feeling like it's time to end it all. Lyrically, it's a very sad song but there's an upbeat nature to the song that initially drew me in. There's this great energy and urgency in the way that the song is played that I'm all over. The moment towards the end of the song after they play the chorus and then the song cuts out, making you think it's done, before coming back in is brilliant. I love things like that in songs. The final track is the EP's title track Vacation To Helheim. I wasn't sure where/what Helheim was originally so I, again, made my way to Google. It turns out The Palatines are making a reference to a region in the video game God Of War where Helheim is known as the realm of the dead. It sure doesn't sound like the sort of place I'd like to go on vacation. The song is about death but The Palatines have found a way to make it sound like a lot of fun and I wish I could get the chance to see The Palatine live to get the chance to sing the chorus back at the band. This is a stunning way to finish the EP.

Like I said at the start of this review, The Palatines are one of the best pop punk bands around at the moment. Vacation To Helheim is another brilliant release that I would expect to place quite highly in my, and many other peoples’, end of year lists.

Stream and download Vacation To Helheim here: https://thepalatines.bandcamp.com/

Like The Palatines here: https://www.facebook.com/thepalatinestx/

This review was written by Colin Clark.

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