LIVE: Black Peaks / Phoxjaw @ The Parish, Huddersfield

By Tom Walsh

There are moments during tonight’s performance when a barn behind a pub in a humble, quiet Yorkshire town could be confused with Wembley Arena. Black Peaks’ intensity, note-perfect songs and sheer volume bring the aura of a stadium show into the confines of a room that holds barely over 100 people.

The Brighton four-piece have been creating a huge buzz over the past 18 months. The release of their second studio album ‘All That Divides’ received critical acclaim, adding to the already glowing reception for their previous full length and EP releases. Their brand of mathcore combined with the huge crashing choruses of progressive metal has turned heads within the music industry, leading to support slots with heavyweights such as Deftones and Enter Shikari.

It is no surprise that The Parish is packed to the rafters with fans eagerly awaiting another glimpse of Black Peaks’ unique live shows. Before that, Bristol noise merchants Phoxjaw bathe the room in a red glow and proceed to embark on an audio onslaught that aims to match the intensity of Black Peaks to come.

With sprinkles of nu-metal, theatrics of emo, the sludging rhythms of grunge and occasional gallops of hardcore, it is quite difficult to sufficiently describe Phoxjaw. The wild eyes of vocalist Danny Garland dart from side to side as the angst-fuelled set sees him spew melancholic yelps across the audience. It is a wild performance that is over just as quickly as it begins and everyone looks around to almost question – “what did we just witness?”

Having to follow an act of that ilk could be a tricky task for any headline band, but from the moment the haunting notes of ‘For Those That Sleep for a Thousand Years Shall Soon Wake’ flutter over the PA before Black Peaks launch into ‘Slow Seas’, there are no such concerns. Front man Will Gardner steps out to an almost messiah-like reception and readies himself to deliver another sermon.

Gardner’s vocal range is truly stunning as he hits delicate falsetto notes in ‘Across the Great Divide’, commands immense gravitas in the choruses of ‘Home’ and summons guttural screams on ‘Glass Built Castles’. However, it is not just Gardner, as the entire band are on the finest of points. There is not a missed chord, beat or even the merest hint that you aren’t watching a collective on the top of their game.

While Black Peaks predominantly showcase tracks from ‘All That Divides’, there are moments that dip into the earlier work of the raging ‘Statues’ such as the brooding ‘Say You Will’. The closing rendition of ‘The Midnight Sun’ sounds enormous even in these close confines and validates the reputation Black Peaks have been earning.

This is a band ready to break out of the dive bars. The strength of their live performances has them destined for bigger things. Gardner’s affable nature belies a behemoth of a front man and one that will undoubtedly be conducting the audiences of arenas in the years to come. The UK metal scene may just have the found their new darlings.  


**NOTE: The below image is of Kill The Ideal from their support slot of Black Peaks at The Engine Shed, Lincoln on February 15th 2019.