Introducing: Black Peaks
Listen to: ‘Can’t Sleep’, ‘Glass Built Castles’, ‘King’
Whenever I tell people they should listen to Black Peaks, descriptions like “they play heavy music” or “they are a metal band” never seem to do them justice. Singing along to their songs makes you feel weightless; sang with a soothing falsetto, the melodies and lyrics are catchy and flow beautifully into another, while the instruments create memorable cadences and rhythms that tie the song together.
And then there are parts where the distorted guitar riffs and off-kilter drum patterns make you stop your breathing in anticipation and fill you up with energy, only waiting to be released when the breakdown hits. Black Peaks deliver both in almost all of their songs. Somehow the four young musicians from Brighton are blessed with the ability to effortlessly switch between gentleness and chaos within a matter of seconds. And there is even more to the band to get excited about.
Formed in 2012 as an instrumental trio, it wasn’t until 2016 when that they released debut Statues with Sony Music. The record sounds grown-up and distinctively shaped, somehow different from what you usually would expect from a debut. Of course influences can be heard—bands like Mastodon, Tool, Mars Volta, Dillinger Escape Plan and Deftones are often mentioned by the band as inspirations. The release was so successful with the fans and critics alike that Black Peaks were able to play some high-profile events like Download Festival and support those same bands on tour they grew up listening to.
Songwriting efforts were elevated for the second studio album All That Divides, recorded during the winter of 2017. Marked by the extraordinary musicianship, it’s especially the craftsmanship that goes into the songwriting that stands out time and time again. There are little details to discover on every track and the choruses as well as the hard-hitting breakdowns, that stay exciting even when listened back-to-back.
The most outstanding element of the band’s sound is the vocal performance of Will Gardner. Whether it’s distorted, sometimes almost growl-like singing, high-pitched, soaring screaming or warm and mellow falsetto, the classically trained vocalist pours heart and emotion into every note. Tracks like ‘Set in Stone’ from the first record quickly escalate from soft whispering to screaming, transforming the track into one of the heaviest of the band’s whole discography.
Lyrically, the band talks about political as well as personal themes. Sometimes they angrily react to racism and xenophobia. In other songs they reflect on past and present personal hardships. This anger remains relatable, and yet the band keeps projecting hope too: things can and will get better, although now it seems rather bleak. Anger and anxiety are not negative emotions, but catalysts towards a positive change—Black Peaks remind us not to lose hope even in the most desperate of times, but to use our anger to always keep moving forwards.
Words by Torben Osswald
Photo by Jennifer McCord Photography
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