We Review The New Album By PaperSailor – Pictures Of Black Holes

Releasing a second album is never an easy step for a musician but there is no second-album syndrome here with PaperSailors gritty and expressive new album Pictures Of Black Holes.

The Glasgow musician merges low distorted tones with experimental electronic synths and beats to envision what it might be like if Trent Reznor was born in the last 25 years.

From the get-go, PaperSailor’s sophomore album begins with thumping electronic drum patterns and vocal deliveries that feel like PaperSailor is defiant in getting his words out. The guitars play subtly the vocals creating gritty harmonies with the vocals. At the same time the electric bass has the Royal Blood feel to it, but with much more experimentation and variety.

The bass isn’t the center of the overall song which is what a lot of those drum/bass two-piece bands forget, there are more instruments out there. From one track alone you are presented with a tasteful transition between smooth choruses to thumping verses. Needles & Switchblades have a driving riff in the verse as the guitars bounce along to the drums, but immediately as there’s a break, it’s as if someone has put the pedal down and the tones get more varied and deeper.

Papersailor has gone from easy-going bouncy riffs in the album opener to a sonic and ferocious bass delivery that is thoroughly complimented by the prolonged and hard-rock vocal stylings in the chorus. Tempo is key here. The title track has a large aura around it with ethereal production filling out a large percentage of the sound. Unlike the previous track, the bass takes a step back with subtle riffing playing under the vocal harmonies.

Normal Vs. Normal kicks things up a notch with guttural bass notes galloping over forceful kickdrums. However, the vocals transition the song into a more upbeat and direct piece that brings the drums forward and drowns the bass. Normal Vs. Normal nicely transitions from its verses and choruses with vigorous production on the drums to make every snare hit felt around your body. It is really felt when the drums are absent for split seconds in the track.

The first single from the record returns to the early sounds of the album with industrial production adding a sense of chaos before delving into the heaviest felt bass riffs so far on this album. The verses are merely anticipation for that heavy riff return, but the pre-chorus aids in that anticipation, you’re never quite sure when you’re going to feel that earth-shaking riff. When it delivers though it grooves as much as it hits. It’s a ferocious piece that then can switch to melodies so smoothly like a Fightstar track.

From the dreamy and electro-heavy breather track Sway, things kick back in with guest vocals from Rachel Best on the track Your God Is Lying To You. Best’s vocals perfectly match the feel and previous vocals on the album with a soaring hard-rock delivery on a groove metal track. Best’s vocals also have a country feel to them that flourish when accompanied by the rhythm section.

Human Woman is the most melodic and accessible album on the track so far with teasings of electronic foolings to vocal-driven choruses. It’s the anthemic moment of the album and a nice ease as we approach the exits. Techno Hell does what it says on the tin with electro-effected vocals and techno drums merging with electronically-altered bass riffs that feel like they tease you whilst pulling the rug from under you. The music is erratic and gives you the visualisation that this is the sound of the aforementioned Techno Hell.

Like Alkaline is a more gentle and emotional piece that is the trademark finish to the album. The instruments have taken a seat back, even the drums don’t hit as hard. The vocals are the centerpiece with the last ounces of energy from PaperSailor being spilled over the slow downtoned bass guitar like a modern Alice In Chains track.

Overall, PaperSailor captures the potential of each instrument demonstrating variety and genre-bending sounds. The bass guitar is mostly the titular instrument and goes harder than most metal guitars could. The drums are tight and loud with electronic production opening up windows of opportunity for variety and styles. The vocals on top of it all adjust to match the styles and harmonise beautifully with the bass tones. It’s a hard rock album for the ages.