Palantine: Tampa trio unites behind 'thinking man's metal'
(All this week, we’re spotlighting tbt*’s 2012 Ultimate Local Artists on Soundcheck. Today: Palantine.)
Palantine are a high energy, low-tuned, riff oriented rock group whose sound hinges on sludgy refrains, easy-to-sing-along-to melodies, and catchy hooks. They have been bombarding the bay area with their sonic assault since 2006.
Singer-guitarist Vinnie Cosentino and bassist Brian David Johnson grew up and attended high school together, and were in an indie pop band called Lukali in the ’90s and early 2000s.
“Around 2006, I wanted to start my own new project that was more heavy and low tuned,” said Cosentino, “and I started writing songs for (what would become) Palantine.”
After recruiting Jeff Fox as their drummer, Palantine released an album a year starting in 2007. They took a slight hiatus for most of 2010, taking time to focus on their other projects (most of which were entwined, involving members of Palantine in different incarnations).
Early 2012 saw the release of their fifth and effort, Bruise Your Illusion. Recorded at Cosentino’s father’s modest recording studio in Odessa — on a primitive version of Cubase through a Mackie mixing board — the new album focuses on band unity and collaboration.
“The previous four albums were written and recorded entirely by me, and then the guys would come learn it,” Cosentino said. “I would basically write the song, and layer everything: the drums, bass, guitar. After four albums like that, the project was losing its steam, so for this fifth album, the three of us felt if it was gonna continue, we’d have to start collaborating. So this time around, that’s what we did. Anyone could contribute anything that they wanted, and recorded their parts in the studio as well. And it really has breathed new life into the project. It’s changed it.”
Johnson said Cosentino had taken Palantine as far as he could as a largely solo project. “He wasn’t too into continuing with us without moving on to a different musical direction: 'Let’s do something different with it,’” Johnson said. “I took Palantine for granted after awhile, because Vinnie would come up with all our parts, but now we have more invested in it because he’s put more responsibility on us. When you get out of your comfort zone you have to re-adjust. I’m excited and curious to see what the future holds.”
Digging into their album, you find it’s not your everyday metal fare. The lyrics are thought-provoking and introspective.
“My lyric style, on the surface, is abstract,” Cosentino said. “While I’m thinking of the words, there’s probably a concept, some sort of oppressive force in the world I’m angry at. The listener would be hard-pressed to find out exactly what I was thinking. I leave it subjective so they can assign their own meaning to the lyrics.
“It’s not exclusively metal, it’s thunderous rock music. Our music is sincere; if you don’t hear that, you’re not listening. We’re hanging on to (figuratively) bashing people over the head with guitars. We still want to do that if people want to hear that, which I think they are.”
Cosentino says Palantine aims to play “thinking man’s metal” like Torche, for whom they opened in early April at Crowbar. “There’s still a place for that in music, and it’s evolved.”
-- Aaron Lepley, tbt*. Photo/video: Carolina Hidalgo, tbt*