London rockers Black Palms are an intriguing proposition. The unique mix of Greek, Jamaican and Iraqi heritages have combined to create an intriguingly dynamic brand of dark rock that sounds about as far away from those influences as you could imagine.
The soulful vocals of Briony Macanas are perfectly accompanied by a backdrop of dark, powerful guitars. As guitarist Chris Sarantis puts it: “Imagine Royal Blood octave guitars meets Battles groove with Lianne La Havas soaring overhead.”
The trio formed when Chris and drummer Tally Fathalla returned home to London after a stint of playing in bands in Southampton. They met Briony, and it just clicked. Chris explains: “For us being in a band is like being in a family and our mantra was always to create something organically in the rehearsal room that could only have come from the combination of the three of us.”
The realisation of that is debut single Turned To Ash, which was released last month. It dives straight into an opening verse of laid-back vocals over bursts of guitar and drums that build the tension. But it soon explodes into a big chorus of more powerful vocals “The stars will fade into the shade, As I’m turned to ash, The stars will fade into the shade, As I turn my back” supported by heavier, diving guitars. A second verse swiftly follows, a little heavier than the first, then flows into a second chorus.
A big instrumental section follows, with looping high-pitched guitars and pounding drums, which fade into building vocals of the chorus lyrics then: “My tender flesh is tinder, kindling, red and dead and undone, The stars will fade into the shade, As I’m turned to ash.” Another big instrumental section follows to bring the track to a strong ending. Check it out in the video below:
The track is big and powerful with Briony’s distinctive vocals and the unusually engaging guitar sound making it really catchy. On the track, Chris tells us: “The response has been incredible so far, and most importantly we’ve had indie, rock, pop and metalheads all being positive, so for anyone who hasn’t heard it, expect something heavy and cool but also a great song!”
Black Palms’ intrigue is deepened by the trio’s aforementioned cocktail of musical influence. As Chris explains: “Interestingly, our fathers are all foreign and our mothers all English so we were originally going to call ourselves Foreign Fathers as it was so unique! But no, we’re all London born and bred so those influences are more distant rather than literal I guess?
“Briony grew up singing along to Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James but loves Lianne La Havas and Alison Mosshard (Dead Weather/The Kills), Tally was originally a DJ and then got into Deftones and At the Drive-In, while I was a metalhead in my teens before studying classical music. However, Josh Homme would be our collective influence; everything he’s done since Kyuss, right up to QOTSA and Them Crooked Vultures has really laid the groundwork for the next generation of guitar music and we will forever be thankful!”
And when it comes to the topics their music covers, the sense of fascination is furthered more. Chris expands: “We’ve all grown up loving a multitude of styles but our main love is guitar music, so our band is centred around revitalising rock with fresh ideas. Our lyrics are metaphorical and can be read politically or personally depending on the perspective.”
There’s plenty more to come from the band, and we’re looking forward to hearing more music from them soon. You can hear it for yourself as the band has shows coming up in London over the next few months, beginning with a Camden Rocks All-Nighter at Nambucca on Friday (30 March), then Surya on 14 April and 229 The Venue on 6 July. More info on their gigs is here. That’ll be followed by an EP release and, looking further ahead, an album is in the works in support of wider touring.