The loss of post-metal titans Isis was an unfortunate punch to the gut for fans of the imaginative and atmospheric quintet. However, key Isis members Jeff Caxide (bass), Aaron Harris (drums) and Bryant Clifford Meyer (guitar / keyboards) teamed up with Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno to form Palms in 2011. Palms didn't jump into releasing new material right away, but the act's debut self-titled release was more than worth the wait.

Similar to the inception of Audioslave, which took the instrumental section of Rage Against the Machine while adding Soundgarden's Chris Cornell on vocals, or Velvet Revolver, which gathered former Guns N' Roses members together with Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland, 'Palms' retains the feel of its members' sonic histories while offering something fresh and unique.

'Palms' remains consistently calm, utilizing the sweet crooning of Chino Moreno throughout the 47-minute release. Moreno showcases quick bursts of aggression at select times, but for Deftones fans who love to float along with Moreno's vocal embrace, 'Palms' is nothing short of a wet dream. The three Isis musicians also bring a familiar touch to 'Palms,' allowing a masterful ambience to soak the record from the core outwards, trailing off towards all directions like a splash of water absorbed by arid sand.

The very spirit of 'Palms' can be found within Moreno's lyrics to 'Tropics': "Relax in the tides / Feel your breeze going by over our heads / You display with your dance / It goes by / Over the sand, into the light / Over the sea, the waves go by / Under the sun, back to the land / Into the night, between your hands."

'Palms' is a fantastic album to relax and zone out to, driven by the immense beauty concocted by four world-class musicians. The only aspect of the album that may dissuade potential listeners is that 'Palms' never changes gears. Although gorgeous, the six songs found within 'Palms' flow in the vein of a droning Aphex Twin 'Selected Ambient Work.'

'Palms' is enchanting, mesmerizing and brilliantly constructed, but it suffers from the same flaw encountered by Mikael Akerfeldt and Steven Wilson's 'Storm Corrosion' album, as there is no definitive progression musically, leaving listeners without a sense of beginning, middle and end. 'Palms' may be flawed in that sense, but the pure beauty captured by Moreno, Caxide, Harris and Meyer is absolutely stunning.

4 Stars

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