Album Review: SILENT PLANET Superbloom

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Since the band’s inception, Silent Planet has stood out in the Solid State Records roster with conceptual depth, lethal songwriting chops, and a drive to keep their take on progressive metalcore outside of expectation. The Azuza exports have provided footnotes in their lyric sheets to contextualize their lyrics, and bring a keen sense of melody to their djent-ish shred-fests. The electronic flavors on Superbloom showcase a desire to stay up with the times, but in no way does that make it another instance of Architects copycat-ism. Silent Planet takes some serious chances this time around, but in no way compromises their subject matter or musicality.

Uneventful ambient pieces like “Lights off the Lost Coast” and “Reentry” aside, the synthetic embellishments of Superbloom extend past gimmicky interludes. “Offworlder” finds Silent Planet diverting its detuned syncopated breakdowns with moody industrial house music vibes. But even then, the song structure doesn’t fall into the verse-chorus trope of genre mixing. Striking synth leads find their way into the Meshuggah-style drops, while chunky rhythms beef up the pulsating techno. It just goes to show that genre mashing is only as good as the musicians involved.

To that effect, “Collider” comes through with some propulsive breakbeats and almost trip-hoppy hypnosis in between and an electrifying chorus. The contrast between transient electronica and gargantuan breakdowns is almost frustratingly tasteful. Similarly, the use of vocoder manipulations, percussive subdivisions, and swaying synth patches of “Antimatter” actually enhances the pre-existing arrangement. Silent Planet didn’t simply write the usual batch of songs, and then hand it off to the producer to add the bells and whistles. Having Dan Braunstein (Spiritbox, Erra) behind the mixing board certainly helps, but ironically his touch feels more present when the songs come full circle back to choppy chug riffs. 

Silent Planet also hasn’t lost their sense of scope, even during the freneticness of “:Signal:” and “Anunnaki.” The former’s energy manifests in mathematical skronk, while the latter’s through punkish adrenaline (not to mention the drum-and-bass underpinnings leading up to the pit-starting bottom string abuse). In both cases, lush soundscapes not only elevate an already-great song, but also expands the album’s narrative cross-section of supernatural, science fiction and existentialism. These themes come across potently but often distill down to blunt emotion. You don’t have to be a university graduate to get chills from lines like “As my mind is shattering and the reasons to stay abandon me/ I’ll survive one death at a time/ Thеre is nowhere lеft to fall.”

Beyond genre experiments, Superbloom finds the raw essentials of Silent Planet as vital as ever. “Euphoria” not only has one of vocalist Garrett Russell‘s most melodious choruses ever, but also one of the band’s most devastating breakdowns. In cuts like these, the synthetic components play more for atmosphere than hooks, letting Russell and Nick Pocock‘s guitars speak for itself on “Dreamwalker,” from arena-ready bounce riffs to jagged arpeggios. There’s even some raspy mutterings to bring a moodiness to the earth-splitting half-time riff change during the song’s midsection. In an approach often plagued by forgettable wankery, there’s always a motif to chew on for long after a track concludes.

The album’s deeper cuts let off none of the creative thrust, showing how special Silent Planet truly is. The crescendo from shimmering math-rock to seismic string bends in “The Overgrowth” is one of cinematic proportion and emotional ferocity. Perhaps it’s just refreshing to hear a band with any reminiscence of the “djent” movement deliver a precocious outing like “Nexus.” Drummer Alex Camerena drives his bandmates through a plethora of punishing beats… tight, but not robotic. It’s also clear that he had a hand in developing the electronic beats, as the way that song’s breakcore bridge evolves from serene singing to a bulldozing, deliciously stripped-down mosh riff. These guys write stuff that’s fun to listen to, progressive, electro-acoustic, or otherwise.

At 39 minutes, Superbloom is hardly an indulgent display from Silent Planet. It actually reflects the actual superbloom event. Like a concentrated, emphatic burst of colorful flowers, the title track emerges from the prog-core ether with sweeping dynamics and multi-layered arrangement—all the while maintaining a surprisingly accessible alt-rock undercurrent. It’s so soothing, that the final build-up becomes both surprising and fluid in execution.

In a career marked by smart creative decisions, it’s good to hear Silent Planet‘s latest album accomplish more than being “the one with electronic stuff in it.” It happens to be better than many recent attempts at this cross-pollination with metalcore, the reason being Silent Planet has nothing to compensate for. They’re still writing solid tunes. As long as they’re doing that, the sky’s the limit as far as what styles they can incorporate.

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