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Majestic and pummeling, Black Peaks is the hardcore band you need in 2016

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Isn’t the best thing about music hearing a song for the first time and knowing you’ll love it forever? That’s what love at first sight must be like, hey. Well lucky me, because that’s happened twice this year. First with The Black Queen’s Ice To Never, and now with Black PeaksGlass Built Castles. Less so with regards to the romantic thing.

Black Peaks glass built castles

Suitably epic and majestic, Black Peaks are a powerhouse with a promising take on hardcore that shines on Glass Built Castles.

From the very first phase – and there are many – of this song, the quality of Black Peaks is displayed, in the neatly packaged delicious audible burger that it proves to quickly be. Shrill thrashing of guitars and thumping of snares, sunken in anticipation of a screaming explosion, begins the song and to be honest bodes rather ominously on the first listen. Quickly though, all is dispelled. Well, unless it is that anything slightly aggressive immediately dissuades one’s stubborn intransigence. After twenty seconds of the stepped build-up, it all falls away never to return, and at this moment we have a hardcore band that isn’t. In the place of thrashing, a swift, two-halves-of-coconuts galloping riff comes in, frontman Will Gardner swooping in with vocal calm akin to graveyard whispering.

Before long, in the same time as the opening thrash, the bounding riff of the verses releases upwards – Gardner’s vocals in harmony – towards a tightly-compacted math rock-inspired section before shifting back to another galloping riff, albeit this time evolved. Jerking up and down, the chorus sends the aural pleasure to all four corners of the known world much like a roller coaster does to a stomach.

But they aren’t done yet. Black Peaks forgoes the traditional final chorus, reaching into their collective aorta to produce a defiant last stand of sludge rock that propels Glass Built Castles from mere emotional roller coaster to an emotional glass-ceiling smasher, more so than an all-female cast remake of a 1980s comedy could ever be, and in doing so prove why they’re a band that deserves attentive ears.

Glass Built Castles is one of three released tracks that the band, who describe themselves as wanting to make music “Like Oceansize but with the guts of Mastodon”, will include on their upcoming album, Statues, to come out early next year. One of those three tracks, Crooks, falls far short of the majesty of Glass Built Castles, but in it’s rather narrow hardcore outlook is probably odds-on what the rest of the songs on Statues will resemble. Crooks’ one saving grace is the pearly, heart-pinging instrumental bridge, a quality of Black Peaks’ music that propels the third, and most recently released, of their available output.

Saviour begins (well, after the opening salvo of Mastodon imitation) with a calm, gliding segment that wouldn’t begin to sound alien amongst indie bands. The good start is tempered by a rather dull key change, but a quick transition maintains a healthy vitality to the song, as a well-written scene does to a movie.

On this point, transitioning is the name of Saviour’s game. The indie rock-imitations quickly move towards a grunge aesthetic, before settling on an unsettling mixture of punk and progressive rock instrumentation, shrouded in metallic production. Before long, Savior has morphed into what an Oceansize-meets-Mastodon band might sound like, dragging vocals at home in sludge rock / metal meeting minimalist, ambient rock.

But then again, if all those genres aren’t good enough, they pop back like a dislocated shoulder into the punk / progressive rock mix before finally exploding in a swirl of genres that, of all genres, ends in a hurried-alternative rock crescendo. This ordered chaos that streams out of Black Peaks probably points to one unifying characteristic of the band: genius. Genius isn’t hard to spot: Stellan Skarsgard did it in Good Will Hunting fairly easily; and in Black Peaks’ case, Vevo (of all places) has clubbed them onto their to-watch list for 2016.

If that doesn’t sell it, the band has a good tale to tell vis-a-vis spotting genius. Discussing their delight at the mad hype they’ve received in their English homeland, the lads relate how their tracks were initially received at BBC Radio 1 (more or less the UK’s JJJ): “Our manager took our track into Radio 1, just to show them what was coming out in the next few weeks…it wasn’t even mixed yet! He took it to a meeting with some producers, played them five other tunes, put ours at the end and they were like ‘What was that?’…They listened to about twenty seconds of each song but when they were played Glass Built Castles, they sat and listened to the whole song.”

Things are looking good for Black Peaks right now; it’s probably a good idea to get on this bandwagon now so you can say you liked them before they were big. They ain’t getting any smaller now.

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November 24, 2015