It’s funny to think about pivotal moments in underground music, about how and when they appear and how they affect styles and sounds over time. At the turn of the century it felt very much like two pinnacles in underground metal/hardcore/etc’s evolution were evident, and indeed symbiotic: Neurosis and Isis. The former had undoubtedly inspired the younger band, but the latter were developing at such a rate that on their Red Sea EP and Oceanic LP, the students were on a par with the masters. Subsequently, we’ve had two decades of bands drawing influence from the pioneering spirit and sounds of these two bands.
Flood Peak undoubtedly feel like another descendant from that particular miasma, but unfortunately they have neither the emotional weight and gravitas of the former, or the sheer amount of killer riffs the latter had on their initial run. That’s not to suggest that Flood Peak are aping those bands specifically or solely, but like many their sound lies so clearly in the debris of those particular twin wrecking balls, whether by accident or design, the comparison is inescapable.
Labouring in a field of slow tempos, clanging discordance and rasped yelling, they certainly tick all the requisite requirements in the ‘apocalyptic post doom core with a bit of modern black metal guitar fiddling’ box. They do very little, it has to be said, to stray outside of what you’d expect from a band of this kind which is, depending on your taste, either an enormous plus or a massive minus, and on repeat listens unfortunately I’d go with the latter.
Labouring in a field of slow tempos, clanging discordance and rasped yelling…
The relentlessness, the single mindedness… I’m unsure if the plan is to wear the listener down but Flood Peak succeed in doing so by virtue of the fact that even after several listens, it was difficult to tell where each of the first three songs began and ended. Is this by design? Is this the Fixed Ritual that band are referring to perhaps? Because these three opening tracks seems fixed, in the sense that they lack any clear peaks and troughs, or any imagination, and the end results express little other than that Flood Peak are very, very angry. Which is fine, but you can still be angry with memorable riffs and there are very few, if any, of those here.
Two tracks remain. Way Of The Sea at last offers a respite from the monolithic dullness of the opening trio, with hope the band have an understanding of dynamics beyond clicking a distortion pedal on and off, as they creep gradually through a repeating chord sequence and whispered vocal, into and out of a climax. It’s a simple idea carried out very well, and it’s actually disappointing when it fades out again as you wished they’d gone fully epic and built this into a longer piece. They kind of do this with the closing Sectarian Hilt, which has less of the discord and a more melodic sense, though again peters out, feeling like an underdeveloped idea.
A perplexing and ultimately tedious release. It’ll find an audience no doubt, and the appropriate levels of sound and fury are there. I’ve absolutely no doubt whatsoever that these gentlemen are sincere in their art, are trying to capture a vision of something, but unfortunately that vision isn’t clear and the songwriting chops will need to be honed to fully express it. Listening to them with no prior experience of their previous work, Fixed Ritual regrettably sounds like a band struggling with their identity to the point, where by the end of the record, they seem to have simply given up.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes