I never really got the hype around Pupil Slicer's 2021 debut Mirrors. Sure, it was a solid mathcore outing, but I never really understood what set it apart from the many other acts around who were also desperately trying to recapture the energy of early Dillinger Escape Plan and Norma Jean albums. Regardless of it's overall quality, there wasn't anything about Mirrors to set Pupil Slicer apart. With Blossom, the London outfit have set themselves apart from the crowd by adding a hefty helping of alt metal to their sound, which is both tremendously exciting and also a little bit disappointing.
Firstly, Blossom is a far superior album to Mirrors. The mathcore is still solid and the songs themselves are bolstered by catchy choruses, and discernible song structures, as reminiscent of 90s alt rock greats like Sonic Youth or Smashing Pumpkins as they are lauded scene contemporaries such as Ithaca or Employed to Serve. What's disappointing about Blossom is that Pupil Slicer don't lean harder into the alt rock direction. The band pulled a similar move that Code Orange did with Underneath (2020), by having the album's first single be its concluding and exclusively alt rock title-track. In both cases the tracks turned out not to be indicative of both their albums' overall sound and quality. Yet while the underwhelming "Underneath" set a low bar that the rest of its namesake's otherwise largely rabid assault not only cleared but entirely demolished, the much better "Blossom" set a lofty standard that much of what precedes often approaches but never quite lives up to.
Don't get me wrong, Blossom is still a massive leap forward for Pupil Slicer and one of the best and most exciting heavy records of 2023 so far. As with Ithaca's They Fear Us (2022), however, I suspect Blossom will turn out to be more of a transitional record for the band, rather than a fully realised solidification of their sound. To me, this seems like Pupil Slicer's Forever (2017) or Warmpth of a Dying Sun (2017), which in itself is lofty praise that likely to leave a lot of listeners more than satisfied. Personally though, I'm far more excited by the prospect of the Conquerings and Underneathsto come.
Affect – Theory of Mind (death metal)
Akilla – The Gods Have Spoken (Groove Death, Melodoom)
Anubis Gate – Interference (prog metal)
Aran Agmar – Atavism & Dying Stars (blackened death metal)
Atlases – Between The Day & I (djenty post metal)
Autumn Nostalgie/Hænesy – Awakening Mechanon (post black metal)
Avenged Sevenfold – Life Is But A Dream (NFT-core)
Aypheros – Impetu Spiritus (blackened doom)
Blåådpalt – Caedite Eos (death metal)
Body Stuff – Body Stuff 4 (goth rock, post punk)
Bongzilla – Dab City (stoner doom)
Bríi – Último Ancestral Comum (noisy progressive post black metal)
Buckcherry – Vol. 10 (hard rock)
Buggin – Concrete Cowboys (crossover hardcore)
Burnt Skull – Daylight Mutilation (industrial black metal)
Cadaver Carnivore – Devouring Eclipse Of Darkest Realm (death metal)
Corpsessed – Skeletal Grotesquery (sludgy death metal)
Cosmic Burial – Far Away From Home (post black metal)