Flood Peak – Fixed Ritual


Artist: Flood Peak

Album: Fixed Ritual

Label: Anima Recordings

Release Date: 22/01/2021

Country: United States

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Flood Peak is a trio consisting of guitarist/vocalist Peter, drummer David and bassist Pierre. So far they have one release behind them, 2018’s Plagued By Sufferers, and Fixed Ritual shows a noticeable step up in overall quality. It’s roughly the same length as Plagues By Sufferers, clocking in at just over half an hour, and the flow of the five tracks is incredibly well tailored to this length. The production sound is markedly more polished and larger in scope, something which suits the more ambitious mountains that Flood Peak have attempted to scale. Their combination of sludgey riffs, mathy melodies and post-rock dynamics hasn’t changed, but they now carry it with far more confidence and zeal.

The record kicks off with Urnfield, which flows viciously between sharp riffs and atonal chords in the first movement before breaking down into some slow and depressive riffing. Towards the end we’re given some more mathcore style clashing chords that glisten with huge amounts of clarity and presence. Salve Curator follows, and with it’s jazz-inflected melodies and crushing vocals reminds me of the heavier moments of Rolo Tomassi. When it drops into a more groovy riff it gives me distinct vibes of Conjurer. The final minute is a soft but unsettling guitar arpeggio backed by some atmospheric swirls of wind and feedback, and it makes the dramatic cut into Feral Wraiths completely invigorating. It shows the kind of inventive dynamism that post-metal bands such as The Ocean and Isis use to such great effect. Feral Wraiths itself shows off this progressive side even further, jumping back and forth from loud to quiet riffs with ease. The track’s final movement is the kind of drawn out doomy breakdown that Code Orange would have been proud of back when they were still Kids.

After these thoroughly exhilarating first three tracks the band decide to show off their softer side even further on the final two tracks. Way Of The Sea is a monumentally slow builder through a dark guitar melody that continuously threatens to go supernova. However, when things do hit that harsh note there isn’t quite the explosion I was expecting, rather the track continues to intensify through increasing distortion and feverish drumming. Just as you expect the whole thing might finally take flight, instead it floats calmly into the soft melody again. I understand what the band were trying to achieve here, but it feels like too much of a tease without a true release of the tension that they built.

The closing track Sectarian Hilt begins with some Alcest style melancholic guitar chords that very steadily build in intensity. Suddenly a moment of silence, and then bang! That explosion of energy which Way Of The Sea missed is finally given to us, and it’s truly fantastic. The caustic mid-range vocals give this a Cult Of Luna vibe, and when the track breaks down again into a new soft melody it’s very satisfying. The final leg takes this new, more intricate melody into heavy territory, with some intriguing basslines and vociferous drumming. It’s a huge ending to the record, but it doesn’t go quite as far as I wished. Ultimately this song is made up of two parts with a soft and loud version of each, and beyond the vocals there isn’t much to add depth to the track’s relatively simple structure. I still enjoyed it without a doubt, but I just feel there was something missing that could have taken this track to the next level.

Fixed Ritual feels very much like an EP showing two halves of a band. The first three tracks take us through some deliciously dark spirals of atonal chords and crushing riffs with a highly engaging energy that keeps you on edge even in the softer moments. The fourth and fifth tracks explore that softer, slow building, post-metal side further, and although it lacks some of the depth and intricacy which the best bands in this style utilise, there are still some really enjoyable moments within these tracks. Fixed Ritual shows a band with huge capability to be at the triumvirate where modern hardcore, sludge metal and post-metal meet. Flood Peak might not have reached full potential yet, but listening to their journey towards it is still very gratifying.

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