With a visually unnerving name like Pupil Slicer, immediate images of violence, mutilation, and torture can’t help but arise. It should come as little surprise then that a London based trio who would choose such a catchy moniker deal in a ferocious blend of mathcore, deathgrind, and noise-punk, with natural comparisons to the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Locust.
Now, while more current similarities could be drawn to SeeYouSpaceCowboy or Prosthetic Records label mates Wristmeetrazor, neither seem to harness the focused form of disparate frustration and caustic audible assault that Pupil Slicer have achieved on their debut full-length, ‘Mirrors’.
The unhinged vocal delivery of guitarist Kate Davies harks back to a bygone era where metalcore was a less welcoming, near impenetrable sub-genre of the most heinous variety. Shrieking over frantic, dissonant compositions that pull us to and fro, switching at breakneck pace from nauseating noodling to impactful breakdowns, and ultimately exposing the blackened, bruised husk of a heart at its damaged core; all initially extinct components that have seeped their way slowly back into hardcore’s rusted veins.
The one-two head-caving of opener ‘Martyrs’ and the dizzying ‘Stabbing Spiders’ paint a visceral sonic image, but standout ‘L’appel Du Vide’, featuring Carson Pace of Callous Daoboys, hints at a major dexterity, offering a complex, sickeningly serene crescendo echoing the often unmatched dynamic range of Code Orange.
‘Mirrors Are More Fun Than Television’ devolves into a proto-post-rock dirge, exuding a clear sense of control that can breathe and expand from minute-long technical powerviolence headfuckery to bombastic, seething pieces that take their time to envelop and crush. Speaking of bombastic, the immediate surge and barrage of ‘Save The Dream, Kill Your Friends’ serves as a high watermark for the delicate tip-toeing of the devastation spectrum that the band have been so impressively adept at thus far.
What’s most engaging about Pupil Slicer and their niche brand of violent, emotive hardcore, is the unique melting pot of influences imbued, constantly simmering before bubbling over into toxic ooze. The shattering final moments of closing track ‘Collective Unconscious’ glisten in claustrophobic blackness with post-hardcore melody and undiluted anguish, recalling the likes of Zao, Fear Before The March Of Flames, and the late 90s screamo gold-standard. The song, and ultimately the album, literally end with agonised, vulnerable, and terrified whimpering that exposes a tortured vulnerability beneath the chaos and unkempt aggression. It’s a despondent, unsettling, and frankly ugly manner in which to sign off your debut, but for ‘Mirrors’, it couldn’t seem more apt.
Lover of choons, flums, bukes and such. I like making music. I like writing about music. I like burgers and emo-trap. Also suffer from a slight case of knowitallism. I wish every song had a breakdown.