Black Peaks + Palm Reader + Toska
In 2015 there are those bands who are content to fit neatly into pre-ordained boxes set for them, and then there are bands who take one look at those boxes, chuckle to themselves, and proceed to throw every preconception and narrow-minded assumption straight out of the window. Brighton’s Black Peaks are firmly and unapologetically the latter
Founded initially by guitarist Joe Gosney, bassist Andrew Gosden and drummer Liam Kearley, the original blueprint for the band was one of knotty instrumentalism and expansive, cinematic structure well-suited to the band’s astonishing musical skill set. However, the introduction of maniacal frontman Will Gardner on vocals served as a powerful lightening rod for the band, offering their exceptional technical ability a formidable emotional focus.
“I remember stepping into the room with the other three guys for the first time and thinking ‘Oh my God, this is fucking it’” enthuses Gardner. “As a band we all have very diverse tastes but when we get in a room together we seem to be able to turn all of those things into something wonderfully potent. It feels like the band I’ve been wanting to listen to my entire life!”
Those influences are drawn from the most broad and varied wells imaginable: from the sprawling, wide-eyed prog-isms of The Mars Volta to the lead-fingered riffing of Mastodon to the deft melodicism of City And Colour and plenty more besides there are touches from almost every edge of the musical palette in Black Peaks’ remarkable offering. This is spasmodic, esoteric, heart-shaking stuff that pitches and rolls, rises and falls in turn with both delicate grace and thunderous power.
“We have never thought of ourselves as just a metal band or just a hardcore band or just a math rock band,” explains Gardner. “Yes, there are really hard, heavy, sludgy parts to what we do but we have also played at prog festivals and with pop punk and straight up hardcore bands. We really love the idea of not fitting into something straightforward and easy. We like confusing people a bit, making them work for it!”
That penchant for leaving heads spinning and jaws on the floor though is perhaps most ably demonstrated through a live show best described as frenetic to the point of exorcistic. In Gardner especially, Black Peaks have one of the most eccentric, confrontational and vocally gifted frontmen in Britain; one part screaming banshee to two parts mesmerising crooner utterly unafraid to get his point across in the most direct, highly-strung manner imaginable and backed up by a unit of ferociously tight and completely compelling musicians. “It’s a cliché to say but we just love playing shows,” confesses Gosney. “Everything we do as a band is geared up to that 30, 40 or 50 minutes. We’ll play anywhere, to anyone, anytime and give it everything we have. It’s in our DNA.”
That unswerving dedication to carving out the most exquisitely euphoric onstage displays possible has led to high profile support slots with the likes of Pelican, Deafheaven and Jamie Lenman as well as appearances at virtually every festival the UK has to offer. From there, support from Radio 1’s Annie Mac and Daniel P Carter has followed alongside the enthusiastic patronage from Zane Lowe who described the band as “Exceptional”. And with a landmark record deal to Easy Life Records / Sony RED now signed, the band are gearing up to unveil their first LP, Statues, in early 2016.
“It’s an album which takes on the full spectrum of everything we’ve worked towards as a band so far,” says Gardner. “We’ve looked to really push ourselves to the furthest edges of our ability. This is the longest any of us have ever dedicated to one body of work and I think that attention to detail really shows. These songs are stories, journeys, things that have happened to me or people I know and reflect something truthful and pure. It’s multi-faceted, multi-layered, I hope it’s an album that people will still be getting new things from on the 20th and 30th and 50th listen.”
Indeed, from the discordant, drawn out sludge of Hang ‘Em High, to the schizophrenic groove and antagonism of Set In Stone and beyond, Statues shows one of Britain’s most creatively dextrous propositions flexing their muscles without constraint. From breath-taking pop nous to crushing riffola and back again, these are ten tracks which should appeal to any brain-in rock fan. That it is a debut album only serves to make its confidence and brilliance all the more remarkable.
“For us, the most exciting part of this band is about to come,” concludes Gardner. “We are on the cusp of showing everyone exactly what we are capable of. I feel like there is a demand for intelligent, well thought out, complex music still and we want to be that band who can give people something with a bit more depth emotionally and creatively. We’re all incredibly excited, mainly because we understand that this is only the beginning of where this band can go.”