Given we’re a blog about new bands, this article may seem a little – wait, very – random. As Palat formed 32 years ago in 1987. However, they only very recently released their debut album, which they originally recorded back in 1992.
This fact in itself is indicative of how things have changed in Palat’s home country of Estonia which, back in the band’s heyday of the early 90s, was just about gaining independence from Russia. The good news is that the release of the album, which has now been mastered to their liking, shows that all good music stands the test of time.
The band sent us Roam, from the album The First… At Last, which opens up with delicious little darting guitar riffs then a low-tuned riff and high-pitched flurries. A little lick drops into low-tuned chugging guitars and pounding drums that continue under the engaging vocals of frontman Andri Hõbemägi.
A second verse and chorus are followed by a really cool guitar solo, which drops into drawn-out vocals “Feel no pain, feel no consciousness” over chugging guitars and pounding drums. The opening riff returns to bring the track to an end. Check it out below:
We had a chat with Andri to find out more about Estonian metal and get the lowdown on finally releasing their album 25 years later. Read on below…
GR: Who are Palat?
AH: “First, there are four friends – from very early childhood, virtually from the same street – and then there is a band, from 1987, named after Anton Chekhov’s short story Ward no 6. We went to the same school, played together, hung out together and started this band together. Which means also no changes in the line-up. And the best thing is – despite having the band, we are still good friends today.”
GR: We don’t meet too many Estonian bands… What can you tell us about the music culture in Estonia? And how much support is there for Estonian metal bands?
AH: “We need probably to draw a line somewhere around when Estonia regained its independence in 1991. Since the early nineties, it’s easier to explain – we had some delay going through the same cycles of popularity of different genres as every other western music scene.
“Pre-nineties there was a state-regulated pop band scene and then literally an underground music life, starting with beat bands in the sixties and all through 70’s psychedelic music, hard rock and even jazz in some instances up to punk and heavier metal in the 80s. Still, there have always been viable underground bands and strong motivation to do alternative music.
“Despite that fact that in 1987 we were probably the first thrash metal band in the virtually non-existent metal scene, now statistically Estonia ranks pretty high in metal bands per inhabitant ratio.”
GR: You’ve sent us Roam, which was written in 1992 but only released 25 years later! What’s that all about? And, what should people be expecting from the song?
AH: “All the material from our 2017 album The First… At Last was actually written and recorded between 1990 and 1992. Back then the local music industry was in its labor pains and basically the only release format was tape cassette; vinyl or CD was extremely rare. But one of the main reasons it wasn’t released earlier was that we actually weren’t very happy about the mastering of some of the material, and that was the last piece of the puzzle left for 2017.
“Concerning Roam – having started as a pure thrash metal band with 7-minute long songs we soon started to incorporate elements from other genres like funk and hip-hop, as well as testing simpler song structures in some cases. Roam is the latter – probably a poppier take of a heavy song.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
“We are a rock band inspired by heavier sounds of alternative music. We are about the riffs, clear song structures, direct and rather dry sound.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
AH: “Take Roam – based broadly on a poem by Estonian poet Juhan Liiv ‘Who wants to be liked, has to roam. Or our Carnival of Souls – about wearing a mask if someone is put into a situation when it’s beneficial to wear one. Or Payable Resolution – decisions tend to go where the funds flow. Very general human aspects of life and power games which will probably never change, be it Palat or Pink Floyd singing about it.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
AH: “Estonia is on the borderline between the East and the West. So as far as there are Killing Joke and Sex Pistols from the UK and thrash metal’s big four plus Death Angel from US. There was also even earlier Shah and Kino from Soviet Russia, and Sielun Veljet and Stone from Finland. But first and foremost we were born into the Estonian alternative music scene so we are planted in the field prepared by our predecessors.”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019?
AH: “The best thing is that we are still friends and still alive and kicking, which means that regarding the new material anything could happen. Is it the age or what but somehow we are getting choosier you know, so no dates for now.”
GR: Anything else you’d like people to know about you/your music?
AH: “We would just take the chance and – last but not least – thank GigRadar for this wonderful opportunity to have our music introduced to your readers and for having a chat about our band!”