Personally, I don’t think I’ve witnessed such huge maturity and growth in a single album that Pupil Slicer displays in their sophomore record Blossom in a long time.
After the release of their debut Mirrors, the English trio quickly cemented themselves as a relevant act on the ever-growing math-metal/noise scene. With fantastic shades of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge and filled with unhinged aggression, there is a lot of passion to be found and fun to be had with Mirrors. Blossom, however, is a real glow-up. Bolder, more dynamic and a true evolution in every sense of the word, this record takes the band to new territory and further establishes their identity and sound.
Starting with the soft intro track “Glaring Dark of Night” and followed by the exhilarating “Momentary Actuality”, you quickly know you’re in for a ride, with their trademark hostility in full display in the song’s initial moments. However, when the first chorus hits with vocalist Katie Davies’ cleans taking the center stage, you know the album will offer a bit more variety than its predecessor.
You may think that clean vocals can’t really bring that much diversity to a band’s sound, but this facet to Davies’ voice allows the band to delve into deeply melodic passages, evoking moments reminiscent of bands like Jinjer and Svalbard, brimming with modern post-hardcore influences. This allows their music to hit emotional heights it never touched before, and it sure struck a chord with me.
The fantastic “Departure in Solitude” follows in those footsteps, further indicating that clean vocals are now a core part of the band’s sound. It quickly took the spot as my personal favorite song of theirs, and the one I show to my friends when I talk about them. Followed seamlessly by “Creating the Devil in Our Image”, this double punch perfectly illustrates the album’s concept and the band’s commitment to forging their own path. And of course, the aggression and chaos presented in their earlier work is still to be found, and frankly, better and more honest than ever. I feel like those songs would fit right in at a Between the Buried and Me album.
Despite taking on so many different influences, Pupil Slicer manages to navigate through them and still sound fresh, unique and not lose themselves in these experiments. Perhaps it’s the emotional approach the band has for their music – ever since they banded together, their music touched on deeply human and heavy themes lyrically. On their first album, those emotions manifested themselves mostly in an aggressive way, but in Blossom there is much more nuance to be found: melancholy, sorrow, and despair can be felt in a much more natural and effective way this time around. The album’s final track and lead single “Blossom” justifies its title track status, perfectly defining what the brand new Pupil Slicer is. And you just know this album is an indicative of a bright future for the band and what they can offer.
Perhaps it is the many layers you can peel off in this record, or maybe it’s the vast amount of sounds it offers, its thundering energy, or even just how fun it is, but I can’t stop listening to Blossom. I can already see it as one of my favorite releases of the year, and I will surely keep it on repeat for a good while and recommend this album to anyone looking for honest, passionate music. Whether their next project follows up Blossom directly or they throw another curveball our way, Pupil Slicer just proved they are a band you want to keep on your radar at all times!