Black Peaks – ‘All That Divides’

By Sam Craddock-Camp

Brighton’s Black Peaks have set a very high standard for British rock. While other bands rely on backing tracks and aspiring to break onto daytime Radio 1, Black Peaks have spent the last few years focusing on writing some of the most interesting and visceral progressive music in the UK. Debut albums always have the benefit of being written over a longer period of time, but ‘Statues’ still stands as one of the most exciting debuts of any band in recent memory.

After setting the bar so high, the challenge for Black Peaks was to build on their incredibly diverse sound, without dropping in quality in any way. ‘Statues’ felt like a complete body of work, a collection of songs that, while not entirely a concept album, thematically described a dystopia that isn’t too far from our current socio-political future. ‘All That Divides’ delivers that on all fronts; it’s a self-contained analysis and commentary on the world where the people in power have lost their humanity, and we find ourselves no longer empathising with our fellow man.
They’ve struck a fine balance of both pushing the boundaries in terms of their technical proficiency, and writing interesting and catchy songs. The hooks, while immediate, are by no means simple. The route that they’ve taken is much more challenging and progressive. They’ve eschewed their more hardcore tendencies in favour of creating a soundscape through arpeggiated guitar work, through their lyrical storytelling, and utilising more interesting vocal melodies.

It would be remiss to not acknowledge the obvious Tool comparisons throughout this album. Tool’s influence in progressive music is monumental, however it takes a certain talent to be able to take that influence and adapt it within your own identity. Black Peaks have managed to harness that imprint, alongside incorporating elements of Mastodon and Biffy Clyro, to create a uniquely British take on the genre. Vocalist Will Gardner may owe a lot to Maynard James Keenan, but he has one of the best voices in the UK, if not the world. His ability to switch from delicate falsetto, to one of the most guttural screams in heavy music, is exceptional. The dichotomy of his range is unsurpassed, and sets a high standard for every other singer in the scene to follow.

Album highlight ‘Slow Seas’ is a wonderfully crafted half-ballad that addresses the current migrant crisis. Its acoustic-led introduction begins beautifully; a subtle dance of musicality that belies its venomous criticism of foreign border policy. It’s the closest Black Peaks have ever come to the deft politicism of System of a Down, and it’s to their credit that they are now able to count themselves amongst those bands who can merge political themes with expert songwriting.

In ‘All That Divides’, Black Peaks have yet again pushed the boundaries of what British rock music is capable of; they even push the boundaries of what progressive rock music is capable of. They’re a national treasure, and deserve every ounce of support that we can muster. Bands like this don’t come around that often, so when they do, we need to grab hold with both hands.

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