Parading up and down the country over the last couple of years, including a mesmerising performance at Reading Festival last year, Brighton’s Black Peaks have built quite a cult following, despite not releasing a huge amount of material. With the post-hardcore scene seeing something of a resurgence recently with the return of Glassjaw and At The Drive-In, alongside the heightened popularity of letlive. and Beartooth, you can certainly add Black Peaks to the upper levels of this sub-genre.
Lead single and opening track, ‘Glass Built Castles’, has been around for well over a year now, being released on the lead up to their performance 2015’s Hit The Deck Festival. Opening with a chaotic introduction followed by softly worded verses and an anthemic call and return chorus, displaying the melodic nature of The Manic Street Preachers crossed with the rawness of letlive., this is a superb way to start the record, and is surely destined to be a live staple for many years to come.
Vocalist Will Gardner‘s attitude and impassioned delivery is superbly demonstrated on ‘Crooks’, with the melding of clean melodic vocals and aggressive, forthright growls seamlessly achieved and once again on ‘Hang ‘Em High’, where some of the passages are borderline depressing; growly vocals and discordant guitars constantly crashing together to form an impenetrable wall of sound.
An older track from a previous EP, ‘Say You Will’ is clearly a banker on both record and the live environment. Starting with a rumbling bass tone over a rhythmic drum fill, there’s a distinct aura that sends chills down the spine throughout. Numerous random lengthy screams from Gardner lend themselves well to this eerie atmosphere before the band decide to throw in a couple of The Dillinger Escape Plan-esque breakdowns for fun, coupled with a guitar tone reminiscent of Mastodon with odd progressive twinkling in the background.
The complex sub-genre references continue with the punkish Gallows-esque guitar riffs through ‘Statues Of Shame’ and the evident Tool-worshipping on lengthy number ‘Drones’, which focuses the listener on long periods of instrumental quietness through to a build-up of a heavy rhythmic bass line, and quite possibly Gardner‘s greatest scream on the record.
The inventiveness and originality of their sound is something that is sorely lacking in today’s musical landscape, with very few bands not daring to take the jump into unchartered waters for fear of harming their popularity and associated record sales. Black Peaks have punched that trend square in the face with an album that justifies the aforementioned hype that they have received, and then some.
It would be remiss not to at least comment on a few words of negativity. After producing something as mind-blowingly brilliant as ‘Statues’, how do Black Peaks follow this up? After all, the bar has been set pretty high for them to continue this trajectory. However, with a style of music that could see them travelling in no end of directions, and a sound that taps into multiple sub-genres and their relevant fanbases, there’s simply no doubt that Black Peaks have what it takes to go very, very far.
Written by Neil Criddle (@DJCriddz)