How do you top a perfectly executed, viscerally emotional debut album about a dystopian future? Write a better one about a dystopian present. Obviously.
Building on the success of said debut, Black Peaks’ sophomore release presents that most rare and wonderful of beasts, a young band operating at the absolute peak of their powers, yet still promising so much more. All That Divides is at times an uncomfortable listen, marrying some of the band’s most beautiful and interesting work to date with a narrative that pulls few punches. Less angular than it’s predecessor, but no less weighty, the album sees the band streamline their alt-metal, prog and hardcore influences into a more coherent sound that shies away from the mountains and valleys of debut Statues to showcase exactly who Black Peaks are, and what they’re capable of, and the results are frequently jaw-dropping. The opening bars of Electric Fires and Eternal Light in particular tickle the neck hairs in a way that only a handful of bands can manage, and on the back of just one album, when contemplating what could come next, that is astonishing. Bold, broad, intricate, tight and expansive all at once, All That Divides should solidify Black Peaks as future festival headliners without a single complaint.
But even that is to tell just half the story, because as brilliant and enthralling as the music is (and it really is) it’s the passion at the heart of the album that marks it out as something special. As both a reflection of Britain’s most troubling period in a lifetime, and a treatise on the anxiety of losing one’s place in the world, physically, mentally or spiritually, All That Divides finds its fuel in an entire nation’s sense of fear and unease. Neither overtly political nor wrapped in metaphor, the album is pitched in such a way as to make it open to everyone, yet critical of no one, focusing on hope and pity rather than blame and anger. Impossible not to read EU uncertainty into many of the album’s more choice lyrics, slice it through and it will read “Brexit” like a stick of rock poking out the sand on Brighton Beach.
Is there a more exciting band in Britain than Black Peaks right now? Arguably not, and make no mistake, All That Divides will top a fair few end of year charts come December. The in-fighting, heel-dragging, national shitshow that is Brexit may not be anything to write home about, but in Black Peaks, Britain still has something to take an enormous amount of pride in.