Review Summary: Black Peaks push the boundaries with their sophomore effort; crafting a near-perfect masterpiece with complex compositions and brilliant vocals demonstrating a more mature, refined sound.
Black Peaks are a monolith - in almost every sense of the word. Born from the underground scene of Brighton, their debut 'Statues' came seemingly from out of nowhere, blisteringly heavy with enough riffs to make Oceansize and Mastodon blush. Since then - 2016 - they've shot up from obscurity into a fair amount of success: radio play, big support slots including Marmozets and Deftones and very warm critical reception. Teasing singles for quite a while now, All That Divides is a culmination of multiple tours and a hell of a lot of hype; and it payed off handsomely.
Starting with the first single, 'Can't Sleep' is the perfect intro: a fast build-up into a crashing riff and Dillinger Escape Plan-esque spacticity, perfected with the powerful vocals of Will Gardener - the first noticeable highlight of the album. His lyrical prowess is a constant on this album, and has progressed from a constant fry-scream (which was no flaw, don't get me wrong) to a more subdued clean, at least on some tracks. On songs like the second: 'The Midnight Sun'; he erupts into a huge near 20-second, ear-shattering cry, and it's very clear from then on that All That Divides, despite it's differences, is not a complete departure from Statues. It still packs the same punch and is pulled off with the exact same amount of raw talent. In fact, all of the aforementioned track is a highlight of Black Peaks' discography. It's a shining example of all that they are good at, heavy post-hardcore with ample sprinklings of prog elements perfectly melded together in a complex-but-catchy composition.
This formula is really well used across the whole album, however it can get predictable at some points, which holds the album back from its experimental nature but is mostly no detriment to it. Still, it is a small shame that moments on tracks like 'Aether' build and build and never get a chance to explode with the glory of the rest of AtD's style. Aether does set up an interesting path for Peaks to follow, however: a cleaner, alt-rock style of song that gets a chance to explore its heavier roots but stays subtle for the most part. Coincidentally, they follow up on this in the next track 'Across the Great Divide', which is executed with more success that Aether and is overall a great track. This style of songwriting is consistent for the rest of the album, and they continue to add heavier moments to each track, like the blindingly fast bridge of 'Eternal Light' and spoken word section from 'Home' all the way up until the crushing closer 'Fate I & II'.
The instrumentation on this album is very non-linear compared to that of Statues. Arpeggios turn to violent outbursts and solos, and the bass gets the forefront on many occasions, particularly when a song is going to change to chorus, like in The Midnight Sun and penultimate Slow Seas. Liam Kearley is a beast on this record - the drumming on so many of the tracks being as intricate as they are supportive to the sound of the rest of the band. Each element is put together so flawlessly, even on the album's lesser moments thanks to the production and mastering. It can sound a little cluttered at times but overall the band has created a brilliant sound and overarching concept: all leaders of the world have completely lost their humanity, and the record acts as an analysis into our current political situation in a relatively unorthodox and progressive way. All in all, its masterfully structured and cleverly nuanced with all sorts of different layers, both in terms of words and compositions.
All the Divides shines lyrically and musically, with brilliant riffs, complex drums and thoughtful vocals. Everyone in the 4-piece gets their skills appreciated, especially with the rhythm section lending itself to the album more than on their debut; it really makes the album feel more complete combined with the great production on each track. It is a complete triumph, blowing Statues out of the water and demonstrating a new, more refined sound for Black Peaks, though without a loss of edge or heaviness. Their debut was great, but this effort could just cement Black Peaks as not just an amazing band, but a staple in their genre.