Review: Henrik Palm ‘Nerd Icon’

You may be familiar with Henrik Palm from the time he spent with Ghost, the much-hyped band and not one I’m overly fond of. For one so young (mid to late ’30s?), Palm has an extensive musical history playing a wide range of genres including occult heavy metal of In Solitude, stoner(ish) post-punk of Pig Eyes, punk-rock with Södra Sverige, and death metal with V.Ö.M.B.

Henrik Palm 'Nerd Icon' Artwork
Henrik Palm ‘Nerd Icon’ Artwork

Since departing the aforementioned Ghost and In Solitude, Palm has been mainly focused on his solo career. His debut Many Days dropped in 2017 and then Poverty Metal followed in 2020. In fact, the latter featured in The Shaman, with Will J describing it as a ‘bold and audacious musical adventure that showcases Palm‘s musical individuality quite brilliantly.’ Personally speaking, he was an artist I’d had on my radar for a while but never got round to investigating, until now.

Instrumental Funeral is a bold number as the opening slot is ordinarily reserved for tracks that go straight for the throat, Rise Above, Fight Fire With Fire, you get the picture. It’s clear however that Palm is not the kind of person who is restricted by conventions as an instrumental that reminds one of Metallica in the mid ‘80s when they were crafting epic classics and The Smashing Pumpkins own brand of melodrama demonstrate. A promising start to proceedings.

Subway Morgue feels like classic rock ala early Ozzy Osbourne (particularly vocally) and tracks like Shot In The Dark. It positively screams the ‘80s, yet for some reason feels far more sonically satisfying than the shallow and frankly embarrassing proto hair metal guff that dominated the early part of that decade.

a fantastic record filled with stylistic twists and turns that demonstrate an artist with vision and intelligence…

Lunch Hour (Of The Wolf) is tonally different to its predecessor with its nods to contemporaries such as Grave Pleasures and Londoners Light Of The Morning Star. However, what distinguishes it from being a carbon copy of those artists are the experimental touches such as the use of a free-jazz sax. Who’d have thought of Albert Ayler jamming on a goth-rock/death-rock track would be possible and sound so good? Talismanic Love is minimalist sounding and as implied by the title, is a ballad. If Christian Death’s When I Was Bed and (again) Metallica’s Fade To Black floats your boat, you’ll be all over this. An elegant, beautiful piece.

Swim To The Light utilizes Killing Joke style proto-industrial riffing but with a Squeeze and Magazine style eccentric twist. There’s also a touch of the theatrical with shades of Alice Cooper present, an intriguing track which warrants repeated listening. From The Grave is the longest track on the album, and a moody piano led gem in the vein of latter day Swans and Bad Seeds. An emotive, effective delight.

Back To Abnormal features meditative mellow acoustic folk guitar ala Led Zeppelin III and the last minute and a half reintroduces both piano as well as a cascade of vocals that recall Musical Hall from the 1920s. I’d usually run a mile from the thought of such a thing, but Palm pulls it off effortlessly. Many Days has an insistent stoner rock vibe recalling early Queens Of The Stone Age, as well as the grandeur of mid ‘70s prog ala Pink Floyd and Nectar. The explosive yet abrupt end helps conclude the album on a surprising yet thrilling high. 

This a fantastic record filled with stylistic twists and turns that demonstrate an artist with vision and intelligence, more than a certain Tobias Forge and whoever he has in his line-up that week.

Label: Svart Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills