LIVE: Black Peaks / Bossk / Gold Key @ The Key Club, Leeds

By Liam Knowles

Brighton’s Black Peaks are something of a success story. Their debut album ‘Statues’ was released in 2016 and in the short period of time since then they’ve played Download Festival, 2000 Trees, and ArcTanGent, made several successful headline trips up and down the UK and even supported Deftones at Wembley Arena. A mere two years later, their sophomore record ‘All That Divides’ is one of the most anticipated releases of 2018. To say that people are feverish to hear these new songs live is an understatement– but Black Peaks have also brought out a stellar support bill, so that will have to wait for now.

First up is Gold Key. The word ‘supergroup’ gets thrown around a lot but when your lineup boasts members of Gallows and Sikth; people are going to have high expectations. Thankfully Gold Key have more than enough chops to live up to, and surpass, those expectations. Their sound exists in a space between Deftones, Queens Of The Stone Age and Muse (when they were still good), with a smattering of Pink Floyd-esque prog rock thrown in for good measure. Tracks like the sinister ‘Creep In Slowly’ and the shimmering Deftones-worship of ‘The Shape’ sound absolutely massive, and give the effortless Steve Sears room to show off his impressive vocal range. For an opening band, they rarely come much better than this.

Next up are post-metal veterans Bossk, who have been peddling their earth-shatteringly heavy wares for well over a decade now. In that time they’ve carved a reputation for themselves as one of the most intense live bands in the UK and tonight is no exception. The band flit seamlessly between the cataclysmic riffs of ‘Heliopause’ and the serene beauty of ‘Kobe’ whilst maintaining a consistency and distinctiveness most bands could only dream of. Vocalist Sam Marsh doesn’t appear until part way through the set, allowing the band to build crushing yet dreamy instrumental layers before he ties it all together with his devastating bellow. After tonight’s performance it’s extremely easy to see how Bossk have survived the test of time.

The excitement is palpable as Black Peaks take to the stage and launch straight into ‘Can’t Sleep’. New album ‘All That Divides’ has been out precisely ten days at this point and yet the crowd hangs on every word, all scrambling to get close to Will Gardner and scream the lyrics back into his moustached face. Without a single word they follow this up with ‘The Midnight Sun’, which features a mesmerising end section that Tool would be proud of, and the pre-released single ‘Electric Fires’. Three flawless new tracks in and it’s already clear as day that Black Peaks are now a fully established band with a ravenous fanbase. This is even clearer when the older material comes out to play, with ‘Saviour’ igniting the first crowd surfers of the evening (solid quote from Will on this one– “crowd surf all you want, just don’t hang on this shit pipe above all our heads”) and ‘Say You Will’, as always, demonstrating how Will Gardner has one of the most powerful, versatile voices in heavy music right now.

It’s easy to focus on the vocals with Black Peaks as they’re so distinctive and Will himself is such a inimitable character, but the truth is that every member is at the top of their game. The rhythm section of bassist Dave Larkin and drummer Liam Kearley is so tight you couldn’t wedge a penny between them, which allows guitarist Joe Gosney to play his mind-bending, Mastodon-esque riffs and not lose track of where everything is supposed to go. On top of that, the band are clearly having an absolute whale of a time and this converts directly into audience energy, which has reached fever-pitch by the middle of the set. In fact, the crowd are so distracted by what’s going on on stage, they hilariously miss a big mosh cue and leave a big open space in the floor for way longer than anyone is comfortable with. Tonight’s show is everything a rock show should be: varied, original bands playing their hearts out to a room full of adoring fans who don’t know how a wall of death works. If tonight is anything to go by, Black Peaks won’t be playing venues this size for long. Make sure you’re one of the people who catches them on the up, so you can say ‘I told you so’ to everyone who was late to the party.