8th April 2016 – Easy Life/Sony Red
01. Glass Built Castles
03. Say You Will
04. Hang Em High
05. Set in Stone
07. Statues of Shame
09. White Eyes
10. For Those That Sleep For a Thousand Years Sh…
11. To Take The First Turn
For many who listen to heavy music, hype is often more of a turn-off than a motivator to listen to a band. Fucking cynics, eh? Nevertheless, in the case of Brightonians Black Peaks, who signed to Sony Red last summer, the wildfire-like spread of their name could have been indicative of industry over-exaggeration.
How absolutely gratifying to see it come off for once. Statues is equally a dense, rock-solid slab of granite and a deft exercise in dynamic songwriting, equally at home crooning sweet nothings or using your inner ears like a kick drum, sort of like an abusive lover. See, they’ve a great handle on slipping between gratifyingly heavy riffs and lighter, atmospheric interludes, generally within the same song, and several times over. It’s a technique they’ve made their own, embodied in the absolutely monster “Hang Em High“: dissonance drips from the opening riff, and it has a real thunderous quality to the big guitar movements, while vocalist Will Gardner shifts between vocal modes with fascinating agility.
Comparisons to their other bands are easy to draw, but do them a disservice if referenced in isolation; the guitar work owes as much to Mike Einziger as it does to Stephen Carpenter, with ISIS nestled in there somewhere. Thrice-like chorus passages feel absolutely huge, but all are ultimately blended to create something fresh and invigorating.
Throughout, Gardner again and again raises his game. At various points throughout ”Set in Stone” his vocal quality recalls Jeff Buckley, or Monolith favourites Sumer – that smooth croon over gorgeous layered guitar melodies – and so when he lets rip on the chorus, the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention. It’s incredibly arresting stuff.
There’s even space for a bit of conceptual storytelling, with a modern morality tale surrounding the opening track’s titular ‘Glass Built Castles’, inspired by Spain’s Basque separatist movement, unfolding apocalyptically over four of the tracks. It’s yet another intriguing facet to the record – a reward for repeated listens, and a refined and refreshing take on most bands’ political statements.
The album has earned praise from Reuben legend Jamie Lenman, who appears on album closer “To Take The First Turn“, unleashing his trademark throaty bellows and trading off with Gardner over thunderous, post-metal riffs.
One of the most immediate and gratifying alternative metal albums in recent years, Statues does anything but stand still; it’s a big, meaty clout round the ears, but its biggest strength is in its both its variety, and its ability to tackle each mode of its being with the same aptitude and breathless gusto. Fucking brilliant.