“A close encounter” took on a second meaning for Silent Planet in 2022, with the band experiencing a near fatal accident amidst writing their fifth full length. Through this trauma came a new found enthusiasm for their art, resulting in the band’s most varied, grandiose, and uncompromising record to date: SUPERBLOOM.
The phenomenon of superbloom is featured on the album art, paired with ominous lights in the distant sky. A representation of the marriage of the two creative approaches that is displayed in the final work, providing a fitting backdrop for its 39 minute runtime.
“Lights off the Lost Coast ” introduces a very important component of the album: the use of electronics and auxiliary sounds. While the band has always incorporated similar elements into their brand of metalcore, they’ve never been more prominent. The final seconds of this introduction build in anticipation before cutting to a brief message from an unrecognizable voice. The opener serves the purpose of creating an otherworldly atmosphere for the band to explore the boundaries of the metaphysical.
The low drones and percussive synths in “Offworlder” hurl the listener into the album proper, as the familiar sound of down-tuned guitars take over. The electronics established in the intro track are present throughout the entirety of the song, blending well with the band instrumentation to provide texture and an ominous atmosphere atop the closing breakdown. The production of the album allows all of these sounds to coexist without distracting from the songs themselves. A brief swell of noise flows into “Collider”, one of the album’s lead singles.
The emphasis of electronics is reiterated, this time as percussion in the verses of the song. Vocalist Garrett Russell picks up where he left off on “Iridescent”, emphasizing traditional singing in addition to his familiar screams. Equally interpersonal and introspective, Russell is able to weave together his life experiences with the overarching themes of the album. Lines such as “the same unfolding sky” and “bleeding satellites” uphold the extraterrestrial setting established with the previous two tracks.
While the first three tracks are carried by synth transitions, the next two offer little respite. “Euphoria” blends driven, heavy verses with spacious choruses fitting of its name. Structurally, it’s much more straightforward compared to the rest of the album, reminiscent of previous efforts from the band that will feel familiar to longtime listeners. The direction of the instrumentation is still very much in line with the sonic identity of SUPERBLOOM, thanks to the contributions of Mitchell Stark, who’s riffs compliment Nick Pocock and Alex Camerena’s rhythm section in a renewed flavor. The erratic “Dreamwalker” shows more experimentation from the band, with a nu-metal influence shining through Russell’s modulated, syncopated vocals scattered throughout the song. The crushing ending is an indication of things to come.
The middle section of the album, comprising the singles “Antimatter”, “:Signal:”, and “Anunnaki”, offer the heaviest stretch of the band’s discography. Compared to previous albums, Silent Planet takes a much more chaotic approach to the heavy instrumentation, akin to fellow contemporary juggernauts such as Loathe. These metallic onslaughts are balanced by some of the more somber moments of the record, as Russell screams the lines: “My mind is shattering, and the reasons to stay abandon me” in “:Signal:”.
The listener is offered a slight reprieve with “The Overgrowth”. A serene first third of the track provides some breathing room following the prior gauntlet, before reaching an emotional peak. The use of ambient synths are a highlight, as they string together the multiple tonal shifts throughout, with one full song remaining before the album’s conclusion.
For longtime listeners, the tenth track, “Nexus” will be a standout with its lyrical callbacks to 2016’s “Everything Was Sound”. It’s common for Russell to reference previous entries, and by doing so, incorporates “SUPERBLOOM” into the space the band has spent over a decade creating. The reversed soundscape “Reentry” segues into the title track and finale, “SUPERBLOOM”.
Silent Planet have a tendency to close their albums on the largest scale, while that is the case with “SUPERBLOOM”, it’s a closer that strays from the entirety of their catalog. The record concludes with a rock-oriented journey that builds into a cinematic wall of sound. It’s able to feel seismic, without relying on the aggression found throughout the rest of the album. This decision is a fitting metaphor of the album itself. Something that stands alone, while still existing in the bigger picture. One last soundscape brings the album full circle.
SUPERBLOOM is Silent Planet’s most ambitious effort, and perhaps their most honest work. Like their previous albums, SUPERBLOOM comes from an extremely genuine place, though due to the duality of its creative process, that place is much more ambiguous. It can be read as a space odyssey, as introspection on a new lease on life, or something entirely different. It’s a unique experience for the genre that will require repeat listens to fully grasp every sonic, and lyrical detail.
Ultimately, SUPERBLOOM encourages the listener to stare into that space without fear, to find significance in it, and see the mundane in a more vivid light.
Silent Planet – SUPERBLOOM
Out 11/3/23 via Solid State Records
Lights off the Lost Coast