For many of you, just as I, Pupil Slicer will be a name that you have, up until now, been unaware of. The London based trio formed in 2018 and released a debut album named Mirrors in early 2021, to much underground acclaim. Since then, they have been busy touring and working on material for the follow up, Blossom, which is the album I plan on introducing to you today.
The band themselves, I had the pleasure of catching live last weekend, at the Portals Festival, so I was ready to see if the studio work would be as eloquently translated in a live setting. Armed with my experience of the album, I am incredibly happy to confirm that they are as brutally visceral in a live setting as they are on record.
As for the album, Blossom itself is an insanely chaotic thrill ride, where the twists and turns will leave you breathless. Upon initial listens it’s as if someone has thrown your favourite grindcore, shoegaze, and mathcore albums into a blender. What’s poured out is a blistering, ever-shifting, wall of noise, where no idea gets a chance to become complacent, before it’s nudged out, in favour of something new altogether.
It would be easy to draw comparisons to other bands, but that wouldn’t do any justice to Pupil Slicer at all. Yes, I guess their nearest parallel would maybe be Svalbard, but then, at the same time, it isn’t. There are highs and lows, switches and cuts in sound, tone, and vibe like Svalbard create, but there are so many other elements at play that it would sell Pupil Slicer short to drop them in there as a stop-off point.
There are nudges at times towards Nine Inch Nails for instance, and the dreamy shoegaze goodness of both classic shoegaze bands, and the likes of Slow Crush. Hell, I would even dare to say that there’s a massive nod to Rolo Tomassi at times too.
Blossom is a blistering ten tracks, filled in equal measure with acidic bile and emotional outpourings which will leave you devastated to your very core. Admittedly, it took a few listens to get on board with this album, but once I did, it has just gone from strength to strength ever since. There are subtle nuances which don’t become apparent until you have a deeper appreciation of the album.
As Glaring Dark Of Night sets us off on this journey, it has quite an air of calm to it all. It does have a darker undertone, which starts to fester and become more apparent as the piece continues, and by its climax, you just know that all hell is about to break loose…
Momentary Actuality is that hell. It kicks the doors right in, with a full-on wall of slathering noise. The concoction of blast beats and screeched vocal, with a sludgy guitar and bass accompaniment is simply demonic. It’s a full-on aural assault, which is both intense and brutal. This intensity doesn’t ever let up and just when you think it’s starting to drop off, it just comes back with a vengeance. By the end, you are left wondering if Pupil Slicer have used up all their arsenal of sonic elements in this one place, but fear not, because this is only the beginning.
Departure In Solitude swiftly brings up the rear and smashes through, ready to rip your throat out as much as it will boil your brains. It has proper old school thrash and grindcore sensibilities in the mix, but instead of sitting on those ideas, it is melded in with a whole new breed of sound, which has been emerging over extreme music for the last few years. It’s an evolution, using all the best elements, without making it feel dated by throwing in some classic nuances too.
With each track, something new is shown, and the wealth of knowledge of style within the sound shines through. Alongside the blast beats and techy whining guitar, lives a hardcore pulse, which can’t be ignored. Like No Temple which opens with yet another inclusion that should be completely out of place but isn’t. It doesn’t last long, before it’s all change again. It’s the music equivalent of a child who can’t sit still and will want to play with something new every few minutes.
There are a couple of tracks which stand out for me though, Language Of The Stars and Dim Morning Light. The first, because of those soundscape-y vibes nods towards The Fragile era Nine Inch Nails more than anything, and shows yet another string to the band’s bow, which can be pulled out at any given moment. Dim Morning Light, by contrast, throws up those shoegaze meets Svalbard comparisons. Flitting between softer, and more abrasive moments, it really is a moment for the band to shine.
By the time the title track Blossom itself comes around, it’s been an absolute rollercoaster, of both sounds and concepts. Having thrown literally everything conceivable into the mix sonically, this last track still has some surprises left to expose. Feeling a little more commercially accessible, this again doesn’t ever rest on its laurels. It moves and shifts, quite organically, but by its final third, it’s one final push at showing just exactly what the band excel at and are capable of.
A brutally beautiful album, I strongly believe this is going to put Pupil Slicer firmly on the map, and so it should. It’s absolutely everything that a heavy album should be, and then it’s so much more. Dare you take the ride, fuck yeah you should. Hold on though, it’s gonna get bumpy…
Scribed by: Lee Beamish