I must admit, lately I've recognized that I've grown tired and disinterested in the fact that so much "heavy music" is starting to blend together into an indistinguishable mishmash of assorted influences that can't really be prominently categorized one way or the other, so it's often just generically referred to as "metal". That's not to say that I find specific categorization necessary, but there's a certain (dominant) brand of "often just generically referred to as 'metal'"—one that tends to utilize characteristics referred to as "post-[insert genre here]"—that I find utterly boring (despite the fact that it's apparently quite popular, as a growing number of bands are falling into said mishmash these days). What does this have to do with Pala, you ask? Well, to my ears, Pala fits the aforementioned criteria, but with one critical exception: They're good. Really good.
"We Don't Exist", their debut LP from A389 Recordings, is indeed an enigma. While the band is likely more personally attuned to hardcore, this music certainly doesn't sound like hardcore. And though quite heavy, the album does not represent something that would be obviously referred to as "metal". A little bit of that shimmery, dissonant, textural "post-something-or-other" stuff is present, of course, but no... a "post-" genre is no home for this material. There's also discordant, angular riffing; chilling clean passages; excellently sludgy runs; spacious experimental layering; and then some. And what about the vocals? Gruff yells, midrange shouts, burly grunts, a range of singing. Not to mention the fact that the running times range from less than two minutes to more than eight; the atmospheres from frantic, high-energy bursts to brooding, midpaced rhythms or even quiet, somber contemplations. I really have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on here! This is the second A389 release I've heard in the past month that really takes some time to sink in and grow, and this album in particular has reminded me that the uncategorizable "mishmash factor" doesn't have to be a bad thing: It can be done with creativity and force, and it can be memorable/make an impact.