The current progressive rock landscape is in a really good place at the moment. The Mars Volta led the way through the early 2000’s; emerging from their legacy are bands such as Wild Throne, Moon Tooth, Rishloo and now Black Peaks, all displaying incredible talent.
Black Peaks are the hardest of that batch to define sonically. Progressive Post Rock is a starting point, but on their debut release ‘Statues’, they seamlessly enter territories where Mastodon, Muse, Cave In, Oceansize, Thrice and A Perfect Circle nestle. Variation is an important descriptor, yet it sounds so natural and fluent.
Four tracks on ‘Statues’ (Crooks, Hang ‘Em High, Glass Built Houses and Statues of Shame) follow the concept of a man named Ivan that becomes fed up with the greed of the banks. With the help of a posse of anarchists, Ivan takes matters to the extreme. While strong as the concept is, it does not dominate the album or push the band into a corner creatively. Black Peaks explore broader issues throughout the eleven songs on ‘Statues’ such as death, revenge, anger, suffering and religion. Lyrically it is a very captivating release.
‘Statues’ is equally aggressive, dark and beautiful. Tracks can take unexpected turns that sound like Mastodon at their fiery best then melodic and tender within seconds. Opening track ‘Glass Built Houses’ opens with a blasting ‘Every Time I Die’ like riff and ensuing vocal, yet within seconds morphs into a gentle cleanly sung passage reminiscent of Darroh Sudderth from ‘Fair to Midland’.
Black Peaks are a talented and very clever songwriting band. Third track ‘Say You Will’ showcases a simple yet commanding drum statement, joined by a deep bass line that paves the way for a gentle muted guitar verse and passive vocal; all which slowly builds into a genuinely moving yet aggressive track. These type of moments are consistent right throughout.
The highlight is vocalist Will Gardner, formerly of a death metal band ‘Lithurgy’; here he can do absolutely everything. His screams are so earth shattering that they are virtually without comparison. Phil Anselmo was without peer when it came to his ability to reach certain notes and actually sing through his screaming. Will does that, and does it very well with such diversity to add; he can croon, below and chant with anthem like qualities. It’s a very good performance.
Black Peaks push the boundaries throughout ‘Statues’. They do need to be careful not to take things too far into the realms where listeners can’t follow. For instance, ‘Statues of Shame’ has some really cleverly structured guitar work, yet the decision to take things one step too far with a Foo Fighters riff and AFI like gang vocals does descend things into a debate of necessity versus showboating. That aside, ‘Statues’ is a near flawless display.
Black Peaks are the next big thing, they are the future and ‘Statues’ will be one of the years’ best releases when all is said and done, so make sure you’re in that group that avoided jumping on the bandwagon. Get involved with this now.
1 – Glass Built Houses
2 – Crooks
3 – Say You Will
4 – Hang ‘Em High
5 – Set in Stone
6 – Saviour
7 – Statues of Shame
8 – Drones
9 – White Eyes
10 – For Those That Sleep for a Thousand Years Shall Wake
11 – To Take The First Turn