On November 3rd, 2022, Silent Planet were on tour traveling through a snowstorm in the middle of Wyoming when their van horrifically flipped and the members found themselves flung from the vehicle. Frontman Garrett Russell was among those who sustained injuries, being hospitalized for a fractured back, which while he thankfully healed from- but it was at that moment, that his, along with the rest of the band’s lives would be changed. On top of the physical and emotional trauma Russell faced in the precipitating aftermath, the near-death experience triggered a spiritual awakening of sorts, altering his perception of reality itself. As Russell himself put it,
“I felt like I started to experience moments in time like portals, and I became convinced that our linear perception of time is not real. Going through that lived experience and seeing things differently… it gave me a new sense of wonder.”
A superbloom is a strange phenomenon where a high amount of wildflowers briefly blossom at once where they usually lay dormant, leaving an impressive alien-like display of colors. Euphorically, this phenomena occurred while the band was recording the album, tying in perfectly with the album’s concepts of extraterrestrial exploration and the pseudo-paranormal curiosity the events prior sparked within Garrett.
A concept album heavily inspired by a hotbed area for paranormal events known as the ‘Lost Cove’ and loosely based off a true story from the area, ’SUPERBLOOM’ follows the story of a teen who goes missing after an encounter with an extraterrestrial being and the transformation they go through after it. The concept was initially started before the crash, but as fictitious surrealism would have it, the record morphed into an allegory of sorts for Russell and his experiences following the accident, becoming an illustration of how art can dictate reality on a mystical level.
These themes and concepts aren’t held to the lyrical content either, the entire album’s sound is dripping with spacey atmospherics and otherworldly guitars, crafting a fully immersive experience and a perfect setting for Russell’s sci-fi prose. This of course makes for the biggest stylistic shift of the band’s career to date, drawing closer to the metalcore roots that have made up the DNA of the band’s sound while experimenting with ambient soundscapes and djenty, thall-esque guitar riffs, which the band introduced on the album’s first single “:signal:”. This makes even more sense when you realize the record was mixed and mastered by none other than Buster Odeholm (Humanity’s Last Breath, Vildhjarta), who is a pertinent figure in the creation of the thall sub-genre.
Silent Planet also dabble with the warbly synthesizers, breakbeats and dark electronics that made up the (sonic) industrial revolution of the 90’s- much akin to how their prog-metalcore contemporaries Northlane have done in recent years. This particularly comes through on the single “Antimatter“, a track that seductively feels like a seedy nightclub on a foreign planet- and I mean that in the best way possible. These new elements come together on the first half of the record, with the bouncy ‘Obsidian’-esque opener “Offworlder”, the fast-paced “Euphoria”, which features Alejandro Aranda (also known as Scarypoolparty), and “Collider”, which serves as the most straight-forward metalcore song the band have ever released, complete with a soaring clean chorus and repetitive hook that’ll be stuck in your head for days. The song also embodies the theme of transformation that runs throughout the record, with Garrett screaming about alchemizing the bad, and transforming it into a positive in life.
Now by this point, I know what you’re thinking- and don’t you dare come to the conclusion Silent Planet has gone soft- because the aggressive pit-starter “Annunaki” kicks off the second half of the record with some of Russell’s most brutal screams, unrelenting Loathe-like riffage from guitarist Mitch Stark and the performance of Alex Camarena’s career, who steals the show with one of the best drumming displays you’ll hear in the genre all year across time signature changes, blast beats, and speedy fills across an ever-changing abnormal structure.
These sonic changes are not to say Silent Planet have completely abandoned the sound they’re known for at all however, as the back-half of the album sounds the closest to the early sound of their career that they’ve been in years, such as the slow burning and progressive cut “The Overgrowth”, which calls to mind glimpses of 2018’s ‘When The End Began’ with its ominous focus on cinematic atmospherics before exploding with Garrett’s signature spoken word-screamed delivery and one of the heaviest breakdowns of the album. The following track “Nexus” tastefully features a ton of callbacks and references both lyrically and instrumentally to 2016’s ‘Everything Is Sound’, name-dropping the album’s opening and closing tracks “Inherit The Earth” and “Inhabit The Wound”. “Nexus” is also, in my opinion, the most pulverizing cut Silent Planet has ever put out, being 4 minutes of pure unfiltered chaos and increasingly intensifying pacing and riffage which trade blows with the dramatic pad synths that act as the track’s backbone. The two tracks feel like the sounds of those albums transformed by the new elements, rather than replicated- which is incredibly fitting given the album’s overarching undertones of transformation and metamorphic experiences.
’SUPERBLOOM’ takes one last twist with the shoegazy alternative rock title track that closes out the record- and as risky as that seems on paper, it’s the perfect way to end the album, with the catchiest chorus of the album and a stunning and emotional climax that makes for my personal favorite moment on the entire record. The track’s hazy atmosphere and reverb-soaked guitars straddle the line between serenity and paranoia, encapsulating the very aura of a Superbloom- both its unforeseen strangeness, and its scintillating beauty, before looping back into the “Lights off the Lost Coast”. Overall, ‘SUPERBLOOM’, for all of its exploration across space and sound, is one of the most cohesive metalcore and passionate records released this year. It’s a creative outlet for catharsis with the layers upon layers of meaning and depth, and as “Collider” puts it, they’ve learned to alchemize.
‘SUPERBLOOM‘, the fifth full-length studio album from Silent Planet is available now via Solid State Records. Watch the official video for “Offworlder” below.