Black Peaks – All That Divides

A serious contender for big rock album of the year.
Label: Rise Records
Released: 5th October 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

On their debut ‘Statues’, Brighton’s Black Peaks seemed to arrive from nowhere, using a hard-edged alternative rock sound as a starting point before leaping off into a dazzling world of post-hardcore, prog riffs and math rock. ‘All That Divides’ continues that journey, ramping up the intensity in such a way that you may find your fists subconsciously clenched tightly shut by its fiery finale.

The opening moments of ‘Can’t Sleep’ feels like the musical equivalent of Godzilla waking up in a particularly foul mood, a bestial sound from the band emerging, rarely letting up for the duration of the album. With Will Gardner’s voice shifting once more between smoother vocals and his distinctive roar against a pulse-quickening, chest-crushing devastating rush of guitar from Joe Gosney, it is a phenomenal start. Largely written at a period of intense political change within Europe, a sense of paranoia lies over everything with lyrics describing “black boots on the streets, can you hear them as the tide turns red once more”.

The collision of styles makes for a gloriously unpredictable listen, each track surging into a new, unexpected form, sledgehammer riffs meeting prog tendencies head-on with stunning results. A tonal shift midway through ‘Aether’ sucks the air out of a room, while ‘Eternal Light’ could only be made more intense if listened to whilst holding a long metal pole aloft in a thunderstorm. All the while, evocative themes abound from a band who were travelling through Europe at the time of the EU referendum, seeing their nation’s political landscape shifting suddenly from afar. The sheer despair and frustration that drips through Gardner’s vocals during ‘Home’ are worth a thousand words on the subject. It all results in a record that avoids becoming grounded as yet another political album in an ever-increasing field of them. Instead, it takes flight to become a serious contender for big rock album of the year.

Jamie MacMillan

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