A twisted, churning hum gives way to blast beats and London’s own Pupil Slicer have their hand clasped around your throat. Piercing dissonance leaps out to disembowel you and batters you over and over with ferocious grind. The opening run of tracks is devastating, and setting the tone immediately, opener ‘Martyrs’ gives way to ‘Stabbing Spiders’, a forty-eight-second-long panic attack reminiscent of a more-psychotic The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Vocalist and guitarist Kate Davies leads the charge with a combination of throat-ripping shrieks, delivering each syllable with such venom that your ear struggles to keep pace, contrasted with melancholy, weary, half-sung melodic vocals. The performance is staggering. This is the sound of someone releasing all. It is traumatised, it is desperate, it is afraid, it is furious. At no point does it come across as crass or unauthentic. She means every single word, and you are going to listen to her.
Kate is not the only presence to be felt in this hellscape, however, as bass player Luke Fabian and drummer Josh Andrews provide the body from which this excision can take place. Bounding from one sub-genre to another, twisting Grindcore gives way to Math Metal, with flavourings of Sludge and Black Metal sprinkled throughout. Nothing feels out of place, the cerebral assault being carefully considered for optimum impact. Brief sections of calm allow oneself an opportunity to sit and think: “Fuck, okay”, before the destruction returns. The fact that this band is comprised of but three individuals echoes around my head as the chaos barrels through me, forcing me to move. The musicianship on display will make your jaw drop, and the frenetic composition only adds further pressure to the sonic blade pressed against you.
The highlights of the album come to me in the form of the two longest songs, the titular ‘Mirrors are More Fun than Television’ and ‘Collective Unconscious’, the album’s closer. Giving a peek into what could be expected to come from the trio in future releases, it is made abundantly clear that there is more to this band than simply bashing your face in. The powerful outro to ‘Mirrors…’ feels almost transcendent, with serene tremolo picking and tactfully orchestrated blast sections moulding together in such a way that makes me feel at peace. Like a warm hug to remind you that: ‘Hey, it’s not all bad. You’re safe here’. Whilst this band excels at tearing towards you, to scream and rip at both your flesh and theirs, the presence of harmonic guitar movements inspired by bands like Deafheaven or Oathbreaker brings me so much excitement as to what could come were they to lean further upon their Extreme Metal influence.
‘Mirrors’ is an absolutely stunning debut release. Executed exceptionally, this at no point feels forced or overdone throughout its thirty-eight-minute runtime. The UK is currently home to an array of impeccable underground bands, and this opening gesture puts Pupil Slicer in a promising position within those ranks. Considering the extremity of what is being put down, at no point have I found myself wanting less. Only more. Ever more. Repeat listens have done nothing but reward me, and I cannot wait to hear what they do next.
‘Mirrors’ is out now on Prosthetic Records and available to buy via Bandcamp and Rough Trade, with a second vinyl pressing available to pre-order via the band’s bigcartel, and the Glasgow-based store Strip Joint.
Check out the video to their single ‘Wounds Upon My Skin’ here.