Secret Names

Empty Palace

Snappy Little Numbers Records, 2021

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


The Los Angeles rockers Empty Palace are back with their sophomore album, and much like all their work, it's a genre defying blend of nostalgic metal, unpredictable psych rock, and space punk that was recorded live at Joshua Tree, CA.

“The Fool” starts the album with much atmosphere as psychedelic guitars swirl alongside dreamy singing amid a retro-rock appeal settles in. This throwback approach then continues to the spacey, futuristic “Star Cruiser Destruktor Module,” which benefits from thick bass lines and some warbly dynamics. Meanwhile, “The Lungs Of Heaven” is a dense display of prog-rock nods and falsetto singing you can't help but adore. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Side A finishes with “Loretta,” where vocal harmonies are used strategically in a calmer climate of beauty and melody, proof that Empty Palace excels in both loud and soft environments.

The back half of the listen leads with hazy and dance friendly “Secret Names,” where organ and drumming interact with much vigor, and “The Breeze Has Eyes” follows with a more firm delivery as processed vocals and well sung vocals both complement the intricate musicianship. “I Know They Open The Locks,” the album highlight, then thumps with a charming mystery, while the landscape is indebted to much earlier decades.

The final two tracks, “The Caramel Tide” and “Robotorpedo,” don't disappoint either. The former is initially bare, almost in a lullaby sort of way, before building into a chamber-esque rocker. The latter is three minutes of swift and charged multifaceted rock that's unconventional and, to put it mildly, exciting.

It's been six years since their last album, and if you were waiting around for this one, well, Empty Palace makes it worth your time. The sound quality is superb, raw, and spontaneous, yet each instrument is illuminated precisely. I actually listened to the entire record not having known it was live and never got the feeling it was. All you collector nerds will be happy to know there's only 100 copies physically made, and on a cassette, too.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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