Craig Ericson, the founder of Rise Records, has developed a decent formula for success in regards to the bands that represent his label. The band formerly known as Marilyn is Dead, now known as Palisades, is an almost spot-on example of this formula. Starting with the album cover, I’m Not Dying Today appears as though it were dug straight from label-mate In Fear and Faith’s discography. Obviously this is subject to speculation, but even the crown makes an appearance on the EP’s artwork. After sitting through the five-song, 20-minute EP, they are distinctly comparable sound-wise to Sleeping with Sirens, From First to Last and Woe, is Me, all of which are Rise Records brethren, past and present. To clear things up, Palisades looks and sounds like another Rise band. It’s not as bad as it sounds people.
The six-piece from Iselin, New Jersey have progressed a bit since their days when they were known as Marilyn is Dead. The addition of pop-punk catchiness is clearly evident from the start. In fact, they rely more heavily on that aspect of the music than the post-hardcore side. They also decrease the amount of synth, which was dreadfully overused previously. By default, less synth seems to have a direct correlation with fewer breakdowns. The anti-breakdown crowd should not get too excited just yet though. Keep in mind, nine is less than ten, right? The point here is that they break away from it like an addiction. Instead of four per song, they now average two per song. A breakdown is basically a narcotic.
The opening track “Disclosure” begins the way you would imagine: the classic synth-to-breakdown combination. But, as mentioned previously, they jump into some impressive catchiness which maintains the balance throughout. There are bits of screams sprinkled here and there, but they are more of a staple than an annoyance. Vocalist Louis Miceli has become the focal point of the sextet, something that was lacking with the prior name. There seems to be a much higher emphasis on the level of talent the frontman shows within the post-hardcore genre. Apparently we have Jonny Craig and Craig Owens to thank for that.
The next four tracks follow the same template. They all blend solid vocals with scattered screams which come as a welcome change of pace. The synth also continues to play the second fiddle, rather than being the highlight as it once was. There are definitely times where it plays the lead, but for the most part, it is just a backup singer at best. Most artists who use the tool seem to want to bombard the listener with it, for whatever reason that may be, I am unaware. Palisades have seemingly found a decent balance of synth use since the name change.
The biggest issue with the EP is that not one song stands out from the pack. Yes, they are consistent throughout and that in itself is an accomplishment. However, the songs seem to mold together and not in a cool, story-like fashion. In fact, if you accidentally clicked repeat and listened to the same track over and over, you may not even notice. To be blunt, the songs are far too predictable. The same can be said for the instrumental elements of the music as well.
Overall, the growth portrayed by the band is impressive. The development and even the change in style they pursued is worth commending. Many bands get trapped by this genre and can’t seem to claw their way back to creating a formidable identity. With the right sense of direction, Palisades may just be a band to look out for in the future. Judging this EP as a stand-alone, it is less than groundbreaking. However, judging it versus the former – Marilyn is Dead – it is a huge improvement.
For Those Who Like: Sleeping with Sirens’ With Ears to See and Eyes to Hear – From First to Last’s Throne to the Wolves – Woe, is Me’s Number[s]