Coming off a busy year touring in support of seminal acts such as Deftones, System of a Down, and Mastodon; Brighton boys Black Peaks are having another cracking year in 2018. In the year which saw the release of the band's truly incredible second album All That Divides (and first release on Rise Records), they have embarked on a huge European tour, winning over packed rooms in the UK and beyond. Joining Black Peaks on this tour are fellow Brits Bossk and Gold Key. With a bill as stacked as that, one thing was always certain, The Manchester Academy wasn't going to know what hit it.
Kicking the proceedings off were Watford alt-rock outfit Gold Key (7), whose ranks are filled by members of other prolific bands from the British scene Gallows, and Nervus. The striking musical atmosphere the band possesses seems to shift and change with each track, keeping the audience locked in and constantly anticipating the next track. The band pulled off an attention-grabbing set which silenced the room almost as swiftly as they earned their respect. There is no doubt that if they weren't featured in many of the attendees iTunes or Spotify libraries at the start, they had more than earned their places in there by the end of their set.
Occupying the direct support slot on this tour and returning from a ten-year absence from the road were Kent post-metallers Bossk (7). Taking to the stage bathed in cool blue light, the four instrumentalists initiated the set with a dreamy intro, sprinkled with irregular time signatures which soon had the packed room swaying in a unified trance-like state. Their musical style is best compared to post-metal acts such as Russian Circles and Pelican, but with more contemporary DIY atmospherics and influences. The dreamy, reverie-inducing verse sections were in stark contrast to the much heavier chorus sections – with the sporadic appearances by their vocalist further adding to the contrast and served to lift the performance to even loftier heights. Bossk by no means looked like a band who had been absent for so long, and they treated the room to a sonic odyssey which truly proved to be a treat both visually and audibly.
Opening with their dazzling single 'Can't Sleep', Black Peaks (9) exploded onto the stage to an already eager audience, with everyone feeling compelled to passionately sing the lyrics back to frontman Will Gardner from the very get-go. Despite the band being midway through a long European tour, Will's vocal prowess remained utterly flawless from the beginning to the very end - the shifts between aggressive screaming and the delicate falsetto were absolutely impeccable.
The audience reaction to the bands freshly released new material was glorious – much to the delight of the band, who could be seen visibly grateful at the sheer amount of people who had the lyrics committed to memory already. One such example was 'The Midnight Sun', the second track from the newly released All That Divides, during which the sheer onslaught of crowd surfers gave the only security guard a lot to deal with. 'Eternal Light', another cut from the new album, whipped the whole room up into a frenzy, with multiple pits opening up wall-to-wall and pints being launched left and right.
After giving a swift speech about how abhorrent xenophobia and racism is, the band launched into 'Aether', which further showcased how unfaltering and truly remarkable Will's vocal tact was, even halfway through an intense and taxing set. When the band reached the bridge of 'Aether', the packed house was united in a chorus of “I will not lose face”, which further cemented how much the new material was already loved by fans.
'Glass Built Castles', the opening track from the band's first LP Statues, seemed to re-energise an audience who were rapidly expending all their energy in giving the band everything they had. With the energy in the room remaining at boiling point, the drum intro to 'Say You Will' propelled the room once again into a mad furore. Each member of the band's incredible individual musicianship elevates the band to a level not easily reached by many – the sheer sonic finesse on display during their live performances only serves to drive this home even further.
Given the incredible performance just witnessed, the capacity crowd demanded an encore to further savor the experience. The band returned to the stage to perform another single from their latest album;'Home'. As the old adage goes “always leave them wanting more”, and the single-song encore certainly did that. Whichever way you look at it, Black Peaks are becoming a force to be reckoned with. Whether it's their spectacularly well-crafted albums or their magnificent live performances, one thing will remain certain: Black Peaks will keep rising until there is nothing left to be conquered.