LIVE: Black Peaks / Toska @ The Boiler Room, Guildford

By Dave Bull

It’s impossible for Black Peaks to put a foot wrong in their quest for world domination. They are slowly but surely chomping their way through the map and destroying every venue that gets in their way. Next up, Guildford’s The Boiler Room, an intimate venue in the heart of leafy Surrey, and boy, do both Black Peaks and support Toska set the bar high.

Toska are very quickly asserting themselves as one of the hottest bands around, and the fact they are generally instrumental does not matter a morsel. They possess this incredible on-stage aura and energy that surges out from the sheer levels of funk, protruding from both bassist Dave Hollingworth and instantly likeable and modestly infectious guitarist, come melody genius Rabea Massaad. New EP ‘Ode To The Author’ possesses enough evidence that Toska are lighting the way for vocal-less Mathy, Prog bands and those fading into obscurity could take note at how Toska illuminate the stage and provide a set that is equally worthy of Black Peaks’ performance, and indeed larger headline slots are not only inevitable for Toska but are essential for both the scene and music more generally.

‘Chalk Teeth’ has a instant power and a Korn-esque groove, before the more mellow prog parts bleed through, Toska not afraid to make larger statements with their songs, particularly with those that exceed the five minute mark. Everything is perfectly synced throughout, drummer Ben Minal enhancing the rhythm section, whilst the dream-like riffs of Massaad soar off the stage, lighting a fire amongst everyone staring back. The guitar in ‘Illumo’ runs over you like a warm breeze, it is truly exceptional, and has you clamouring for the return of the lick at the end of the song, the energy levels now through the roof and everyone in ascendancy aware they are witnessing more than just a band before the main act.

Chosen not only due to friendship, but Toska, although a headline act in their own right, are the perfect aperitif for Black Peaks, who ramp up the aggression and provide a mature and all conquering performance that not only enhances their maturity as musicians but also their evident ease at which the last few months has been internalised – they are not overly assuming and indeed in chatting to drummer Liam Kearley before they go on, he seems relaxed and at home. And so they should. ‘Statues’ is an album of huge success and no weaknesses at all. This is rare. What is rarer is that live they are better, much better. Will Gardener is a likeable frontman. There is no added arrogance and indeed there is a calmness to the whole band that enables the viewer to feel not only at home and welcome, but it’s instantly recognisable that Black Peaks are here to stay.

The set is reasonably short, but already classics such as ‘Set In Stone’ and ‘Glass Built Castles’ receive a bellowing crowd response, the already warm summer time temperatures going somewhat nebulaic. There is a return to the set of ‘Hang em High’, not played at recent festivals due to there not being that many other heavy bands on the bill, the end of this song particularly a cathartic exorcism for both Gardener and punter.

‘To Take The First Turn’ at Black Peaks’ recent home coming show in Brighton was an explosion of Brighton’s greatest musical offerings of the last decade with Jamie Lenman of Reuben taking the dual vocal role, as he does on ‘Statues’. Tonight, he is in the building, face paint of a tiger, but celebrating his and his partner’s ten year anniversary – the songs’ dedication to him a nod to his support of Black Peaks during their ascendancy.

Coming off the back of a hugely successful support slot to Deftones at Wembley and a growing fanbase collected from the recent festival circuit, Black Peaks are on cloud nine and then some. The trick now, is to master the post-honeymoon hangover and ensure that they continue to ride the wave as expertly as they have done thus far. It’s far too soon to be talking about a second album, and indeed we should all enjoy their debut to the fullest. But it is just with anxious enthusiasm that we wait to see what this band can eventually achieve.