The more you learn about Blossom, the more improbable it seems. When Pupil Slicer entered The Ranch studio last year to spend a month recording it with Lewis Johns (Employed To Serve, Svalbard), not one of its constituent songs had actually been played as a band, together, all the way through. This wasn’t a problem, they told Kerrang! last year, unveiling the album for the first time, because they’d done it that way before and just learned to play the songs together on the fly.
In the same conversation, there was talk that their second album was made up of “purposefully obvious Auto-Tuned vocals”, indie-rock, post-black-metal, 909-trap beats, 20 layers of synths, harder breakdowns. With almost perfect comic timing, singer/guitarist Kate Davies added as an afterthought: “Oh, and a tambourine and egg shakers.”
What’s come out the other end is a record that does, indeed, have these parts all firmly visible, alongside no end of metal extremity, a constant sense of things shifting the second time they’re played, and the sort of refusal to acknowledge limitations or boundaries that historically sent men in ships sailing off to find the edge of the world. Often, it is a strobe light for the ears, all disorientation and dizziness, a hose without a firefighter.
Except, not quite. What makes Blossom the metal album of 2023 so far, and Pupil Slicer one of the finest new(ish) metal outfits in Britain, is that they serve what would otherwise be a migraine in such a delicious, alluring form, while losing none of its rollercoaster exhilaration. So much so, in fact, that over the past couple of months there have been periods of K! banning itself from playing it, for fear of rinsing it too hard and spoiling it.
It’s a point writ large in its first proper song Momentary Actuality, when its vicious opening black metal attack first breaks down into a rhythmic staccato stab, before a whacking great chorus arrives like a train suddenly ploughing in. Or Departure In Solitude’s sci-fi Mastodon-isms, in which computerised vocals lock horns with a huge groove, before the scene shifts into a more murderous tangent. Then there’s a proper evil death metal riff.