ALBUM REVIEW: Black Peaks – Live At The Brighton Centre

Release Date: April 16th 2021
Label: Rise Records


With the past year of live inactivity taking a financial as well as creative toll on essentially all performing artists, it’s been intriguing and invigorating to witness bands pushing forward by whatever means at their disposal. A time capsule phenomenon seems to be in effect, with several of these “lockdown releases” appearing to instil a communal isolation felt the world over.

When Deafheaven saw their ten-year anniversary tour fall apart, they adapted to their predicament by recording the entire set live yet alone, ultimately leading to the methodically distant ’10 Years Gone’ live album. It’s a choice many artists have opted to take; you can even look at the Code Orange release show for 2020’s ‘Underneath’, streamed via Twitch from a desolate venue.

For Brighton’s post-everything extraordinaries Black Peaks, their ‘Live From The Brighton Centre’ project, recorded in collaboration with Audiotree, is a healing affair, expelling a year’s worth of anxiety and uncertainty.

From the dimly lit cover, you can make out empty socially distanced tables, portraying solutions not yet in effect, while the band perform inward, a performance for themselves first and foremost. The bittersweet poeticism in performing at an iconic hometown venue for no tangible living bodies is surely not lost on the four-piece, as they deliver a decidedly succinct, atmospheric, and, above all, emotive collection of material.

With choice selections from both full-length studio efforts, a near even split between ‘Statues’ and ‘All That Divides’, there’s an evident desire to showcase some of the band’s most expansive offerings. ‘Aether’ sets an immense, ethereal tone, only bolstered then distorted by the encroaching gallop of 2019’s stand-alone single, ‘King’.

Will Gardner‘s vocals sound simultaneously rested and shredded, with lilting harmonies and expert cadence that resonates and weaves through signature chunking hefts of groove and post-rock shimmers of euphoria. At truly aggressive moments, like the gargantuan climax of ‘The Midnight Sun’ or the swelling, clatter of seething set-closer ‘Say You Will’, there’s a palpable sense of unbridled, pent up emotion being exorcised for an empty hall, but eventually, the world to hear.

With the Black Peaks panache for audible crisp clarity, as well as Audiotree‘s reputation for exceptional recording quality, the bar was set to a high yet realistic standard for ‘Live From The Brighton Centre’. Not only does the project exceed all sonic or fan expectation, but it serves as quite the dynamic, direct introduction for newcomers, highlighted by an excellent set selection, outstanding production, and impassioned, nuanced performances from all involved.

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