PALINDROME - Profit vs. WoMankind

Palindrome - Profit vs. WoMankind

46 songs
45:39 minutes
***** ****
Las Vegas


Should progressive rock be political? Palindrome from Austria’s capital city Vienna definitely think so. Founded in the year 2000, their first longplayer Profit vs. WoMankind came a long nine years later and is trying to tell the history of Western civilization. Karl Marx would certainly be proud of them!

I don’t understand why many current bands try to compare their sound to Mars Volta, Primus and Mr Bungle. Maybe it’s some kind of intellectual laziness, and although Palindrome certainly share the same degree of unpredictability with these aforementioned bands, that’s already where the parallels end.

The album starts with the short Prelude, some kind of toned down opening of what is to follow. The supreme female vocals stand out from the beginning, and the following Screen Lies confirms the initial splendid impression. As if Henry Cow had decided to add a metal guitar, this song is a short yet incredibly intricate piece of musicianship. Instead of merely relying on the same old patterns of progressive music, Palindrome casually mix stylistic ideas from all over the musical landscape: rock, metal and a lot of jazz. Especially the rhythmic complexities of the latter mark their sound. Where many progressive bands love to indulge in seemingly endless patterns, Palindrome quite often limit themselves to the constraint of the three minute – or even less long – song. At times the band loves to be experimental, as on Deep Waves which is rather a guitar texture than a regular song, but those heady ideas are fortunately in the minority. The five and a half minute long Coca Colonization on the other hand is a good summary of everything this band is about, from avant-garde Rock in Opposition revivalism to Velvet Underground moodiness. Interest Weapons comes with busy percussion vibes in an undeniable Asian mood. The album ends with two “friendlier” songs. Your Work has also been put with a video clip on YouTube, while the six minute closer The Storm is a bizarre attempt at samba or bossanova that reminds me of Slapp Happy, especially as Palindrome vocalist Rosa B. Nentwich-Bouchal has a similar Germanistic mastering of the English language as Dagmar Krause.

It should come as no surprise that we are in the presence of five perfectly trained musicians, and while the instruments all do an incredible job on their own, it’s the charismatic vocalist with her unparalleled performance that lifts things even higher. If Palindrome are able to top this already amazing feat with a follow-up, I am afraid that many currently active progressive rock bands will look very pale all of a sudden.

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