REVIEW: Silent Planet – Superbloom [2023]

Artist: Silent Planet
Album: Superbloom

Despite having lived in Arizona for almost eight years now, it took the press release for this very album for me to learn what a superbloom really is. For those unenlightened, it is an exceptionally rare phenomenon in Californian and Arizonan deserts where wildflowers whose seeds have been dormant in soil all bloom at about the same time. It turns out it also isn’t just as easy as “hey, it rained in the desert here are some flowers”—there are quite a few specific conditions that need to be met to get the real deal superbloom, making it a big deal when it happens, in some cultures and beliefs akin to a spiritual event. Why is this important? Well, first and foremost, Californian metalcore outfit Silent Planet’s new album just so happens to be titled Superbloom (stylized: SUPERBLOOM). When you get right down it, though, there’s more than meets the eye, there. When it comes to metalcore, Silent Planet are one of the genre’s own figurative superblooms—a spectacle of talent, passion, emotion and aggression that really only comes together under very rare circumstances. However unlike the superbloom, we’ve been graced with work by Silent Planet nearly every two years on the dot since their inception—and every release had had something intangible about it that makes it as memorable and moving as the real deal (that is to say, a natural superbloom).

So, how does Superbloom compare? While each release in Silent Planet’s discography is unique in its own way, this is the first time since Everything Was Sound that a sizable shift in the band’s dynamic and style is truly obvious. The result is a progressive take on the modern metalcore sound, a sonic makeover that makes the band sound as though they’ve hailed from 2033 to release their 2023 LP. With moments of bizarre, jarring dissonance and segments of spine-splitting aggression bookending a range of sounds and styles as vast as the Sonoran Desert, Superbloom is a very new and different Silent Planet—for better or worse.

The single biggest change to Silent Planet’s time-honored approach to progressive metalcore on Superbloom is, simply put, that everything sounds like it’s from the future. What this means with more clarity and eloquence, is that flashy riffs and grooves have been toned down in favor of a vaguely electronic finish over most songs—and certainly some cuts over others. Take “Offworlder” or “Antimatter,” for example. Here, the fretwork that the band’s instrumental dynamic has been oft praised has been made more subtle, with a gleam of reverberating, warm and vaguely cybernetic shining through and over guitar and bass alike. The two aforementioned tracks are likely the most obtuse with this stylistic endeavor, both with a heavy use of drum machine and 808-styled instrumentation alongside their gritty fretwork and bouncy percussion. Other songs are more subtle—like “Dreamwalker,” a song that seems to soundly balance the Silent Planet we heard on Iridescent with this new Future Planet (this is meant to be a joke, please don’t flip out). These tracks all see frontman Garrett Russel’s vocal range expanded far beyond what the listener has heard before, boasting soaring, serene vocals, girth growls, harsh roars and eerie, nearly spoken moments with just about anything else you could want or need tossed in alongside.

Other songs—“Annunaki,” or “The Overgrowth”—peel back the strong digital touch that seems to permeate Superbloom in an almost poetic way. As the release progresses, the influence of electronic effects and programming seems to become less prominent, or in some areas, absent altogether. On “Annunaki,” this means a gut-busting barrage of brazen progressive metalcore that boasts stunning fretwork and percussion doing double duty to double the listener over. “:Signal:” does not omit the electronic effect, but rather uses it as a weapon, as it bolsters the series of pummeling breakdowns that define the song. Meanwhile, “The Overgrowth” is, perhaps, one of the closest things we get to Silent Planet revisiting their sonic roots on Superbloom—a monumental track that builds from placid, unsettling serenity to a cacophonous tidal wave of passion and dissonance. This all serves as a series of steps rising to the record’s closing and title track, which is Silent Planet in their most collectively organic form. Diving into post-metal with splashes of shoegaze and…something intangible, the record’s closing song a lyrically majestic slab of mesmerizing melody, serving as a sleeper favorite song—even for breakdown junkies like me.

Without editorializing too much, I don’t love the direction of most modern metalcore acts—which is the immersion in this hyperdigitized something-out-of-a-90s-sci-fi-film sound. This isn’t to say it’s bad—it just isn’t for me—and when this sound was my initial impression of some of Superbloom’s first songs (I avoided the singles in anticipation of the record), I was…antsy, to say the least. While most of the songs on Superbloom do feel a little too futuristic for me, it remains a testament to the band’s monstrous skill that I still found myself able to enjoy so many songs in a style I usually avoid. “Antimatter” and “Offworlder,” cyborgs on Superbloom’s track list, remain strong tracks in their own right—even if I would probably forsake them for more songs like “The Overgrowth,” “Annunaki” or “Superbloom.” This all makes Superbloom my least favorite entry in Silent Planet’s robust discography, but also the most truly unique—and like the Superbloom au natural, something you should absolutely bear witness to.

For Fans Of: Kingdom of Giants, Currents, Bad Omens, Northlane
By: Connor Welsh