Monday, June 6, 2016

Palkoski - Never Again


A strange subdued feeling keeps its grasp on me as I write this review. No, the music doesn't make me feel like this. Quite the contrary. In that aspect Palkoski always gets me going and has me wired to the teeth, as I soak up their candid stories about grime, filth, misery, mass murder and schizophrenia, played in excellent spastic grindcore fashion. Instead, it's the sense of writing an obituary about a great band who's calling it a day, rather than writing a review about a great band who I just discovered thanks to this gem called 'Never Again'.

Made up of the four-track 'Reflections' EP and the epic one-hour long title track, which is divided into 17 parts. The EP is not completed because, after much soul searching, remaining members Steven Kerchner and Todd Wuehrmann decided to honour their fallen brother, drummer Nick Crisostomo, by leaving those four songs as they were. Nick sadly and tragically passed away while on tour with his other band, Khaotika. So instead of bringing in someone else to finish the drum parts, Palkoski left the EP unfinished as well as ending the band.

I have followed these knuckleheads since the days they were called The Seventh Gate. It all started when I visited the US in the summer of 2007. On the way to the beach one evening, my future wife and I stopped by the legendary Sidebar in Baltimore, where The Seventh Gate, amongst others, played, and they blew me away. When the band morphed into Palkoski, it was a natural step which didn't alter their sound, other than enhance it. Therefore, I kind of knew what to expect when playing 'Never Again' for the first time. But man, these hoodlums sucker punched me from the word go and wouldn't let up until the album ended. And as the apparent masochist I am, I keep coming back for more. That, dear waveriders, is one of the best signs of great music, regardless of the genre.

Five seconds into opener ‘All At War’, Palkoski has sucked the air out of my lungs. Coming on like a tornado, total destruction is at hand. And that’s how the initializing EP plays out. Nothing but annihilation even in the slow folky parts where reflections – no pun intended – on horrible occurrences hovers like mustard gas in the air. Schizophrenia, or is it real life, ends part one.

In true homage to Frank Palkoski, the band’s main character, ‘Never Again’ is trippy, scary and completely freaked out. The mind of a deranged serial killer has never been better portrayed. As disharmonic as the music is and as fucking terrifying as the lyrics are, Palkoski ties it all together with such elegance that you don’t even know if you’re listening to an album or if you’ve actually woken up in your proper reality, a true living nightmare.
Several songs are instrumental where the percussive work brings out the horrible mind of Frank Palkoski. Also, to me those instrumental parts depicts the serial killer in full swing as no words are needed when he slaughters people. Not only that, it truly shows the man when the demons burst out and the insanity begins.

Not to forget, a lot of times the band goes for slow songs with odd percussive patterns and strange sounds. Add the messed up, frenzied and chaotic singing courtesy of Steve Kerchner and the hellfire and brimstone world of Frank comes to life even further. Amidst all this, the band switches to furious tempos with chainsaw riffing guitars, chants and sound patterns from the very depths of Hell. It gets so intense sometimes that I have to pause and get myself together, but the respite never lasts long. Within minutes, I’m drawn back into the maelstrom, just can’t stay away. Instead, the insanity washes over my battered and bruised being and I welcome the band with open arms as my saviours.

As sad as I am to see Palkoski bid adieu, they couldn’t have left in a better way. ‘Never Again’ is such a strong body of work, the kind most bands want to release, so musically I can’t complain. Go out with a bang, instead of just fizzling out. And in that same way this album is the perfect eulogy and homage to their fallen brother Nick. Wherever he is now, I’m 100 % sure he has the biggest smile on his face watching over us knuckleheads thrashing madly at the sweet crazied tunes of Palkoski.

Thank you so much for everything Palkoski. You’ve left a legacy few can match and I am so glad to have been allowed to take part in your madness!


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