Considering the scarce number of tracks they’ve released prior to their debut full-length, Black Peaks have had huge success including slots at Reading and Leeds and a Maida Vale session during Daniel P Carter’s Radio 1 Rock Week. But until you’ve heard said full-length Statues, you really don’t know anything about just what Black Peaks can do. Glass Built Castles (probably their most famous track) does pack a punch all of its own, but the ten songs that follow to complete Statues create a true epic. Thundering riffs and beautiful instrumentals garnished with Will Gardner’s multifaceted vocals make something genuinely unique.
However, “epic” doesn’t necessarily mean enjoyable, at least not all the time. Statues is definitely not a record for every mood, and the likes of the seven-minute-long Hang ‘Em High is one part that is a bit too hard to swallow. Its first half is a gutsy, face-melting post-hardcore track, but it drags on for about three minutes too long. Both of these things practically sum up Statues in a sentence. The album is full of huge tunes, but more than a few carry on for too long or repeat the same ideas over and over again, such as in White Eyes or Statues Of Shame. And welcome breaks from the norm of constant loudness are often cut short, like the totally immersive instrumental intro to Drones. The characteristic loudness comes back after two minutes and moulds itself into another face-melter, but again gets too full of itself and falls into the all-too-familiar excess trap. The problem with moments like these is that it’s clearly intended to look experimental and barely thought about, but comes across as self-indulgent.
This all might be a little harsh, especially because the majority of this record is absolutely massive. Say You Will is an immediate standout, and completely made by its slow buildup, particularly vocally with Gardner’s transition from haunting singing to piercing screams at the drop of a hat. Set In Stone, the closest thing to mellow on the album, is haunting with its fangs poised at the same time, while Glass Built Castles and Crooks still pack the same punch they always have and seem even better now they’re grouped with other songs from the same vein. And while it does have its self-indulgent moments, the record is a gripping and interesting listen right from the get-go. Saviour’s best aspect is Joe Gosney’s ever-changing guitars which keep you on your toes by venturing from choppy to fluid and back again. The eleven tracks are just a lot to take in at once and like a pair of shoes it does take a couple of tries for it to be comfortable. Even though some songs dragging on unnecessarily does cast a shadow over Statues, it doesn’t take away from the quality and intrigue some of these songs pique. One thing that can be said, though, is that it’s probably the most interesting thing that 2016 has seen so far.
For fans of: ZOAX, Marmozets, Deftones
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Statues’ by Black Peaks is out now on Easy Life / Sony Red.