Flood Peak
Plagued by Sufferers

At one point or another all three fellas in Oregon’s upstart, space-out sludge trio Flood Peak were members of the heathen, experimental dirt-doom band Sól (they’re still going strong) whose LPs Black Mountain and Upheaval are still way worth your listening time.  Currently, drummer Dylan Stuntebeck is the only man in FP that moonlights in both acts with guitarist/vocalist Pete Layman and bassist Pierre Carbuccia focusing solely on this brand new project.  Equally balancing Herculean brawn and Einsteinian gray matter, FP work up a divine cosmic sweat on their belligerent n’ challenging debut album, Plagued by Sufferers.  With black metal atmospherics haunting the band’s tangled woods, searing melodies puncturing through an overcast sky, tricky n’ jazzy drum flourishes providing a shroud against the demons of the forest and as much aggression as there is Pagan peace; this record moves a lot of heavy boulders across its pointed 4-track arc.

Funerary opener “Precursor” winds vaporous, dissonant minor-key guitar inflections between the fibers of a leaden kick drum march, suddenly jazzy fills and Carbuccia’s tremendously grand yet crystal clean bass tones.  Everything gets more complex and technically/musically interesting with each passing moment as akin to a tiny snowball rolling down a frosted mountain, picking up more n’ more steam with each rotation and finally reaching the foot of the Himalayas in the shape of a village flattening white boulder.  Stuntebeck’s rapid fire hands ghost psychotic fill/tom rolls with a buckshot-wide spread that piles on an all-encompassing, body blasting spray of strikes that hits and destroys every piece of his drum kit in the process while perpetually catapulting the tune into more urgent riffing and spiteful, buried alive vocal screams.  The harsh, throat-tearing narrations don’t vary much in tone but the conviction of their anger and their mixing placement delegates them to the role of being another acerbic instrument within the entire whole.  Everything blends into this maximum density fortress of painfully melodic sound only heightened in thickness thanks to the pitch perfect production/mixing which manages to maintain a live-feeling rawness without sacrificing clarity.  4:15’s serene cascades of midnight pyre guitars stop the very pulse of the song before jump-starting its heart with car jumper cables in a crescendo of manic percussive might and strangled doom riffs undercut by ringing, choking blizzard chords.

“Scourge” mediates on sublime, unplugged axework during its rising tide intro, bringing to mind some of FP’s regional peers past and present like YOB, Paranaut, Diesto and Slave Traitor with Arkansas’ butchers Rwake, Shitfire and Deadbird also serving as similar mixed and mangled company.  The hypnotic musical progressions of “Scourge’s” Sahara vast lead-in is an exercise in the cautious, layers upon layers approach of this kinda heavy stuff.  Layman’s eerie, ominous few note drones are slowly accented by cymbal taps at first, a plodding but restrained beat joined by creaky bass lines and finally some slight alterations to the riff pattern.  Each instrument starts breeding numerous broods of notes like Datura loaded bunnies in heat and the Through Silver in Blood circle is completed by avalanching drums, noise-raped blackened doom guitars, walking bass lines that keep one foot following and supporting Pete’s frantic frets and the other foot dancing along its own path in a fever of demonic possession.  At 4:12 Pierre runs his bass through a trash-compacter of intestine squashing distortion resulting in one of the most evil creeps on the entire record; the total launchpad for a furious climax of melting nasty doom beaten into shackles by some wild as fuck fill-work from Dylan.  I could see fiends of all of the aforementioned bands getting into this.  They also remind me of criminally forgotten UK rippers Snowblood, Cattlepress circa the Hordes to Abolish the Divine era and Wayfarer.

A deafening, stop/start tom drum throb provides semblance to the sandpaper scrapes of discordance and doom-y riff interjections (in the key of Crowbar) dwelling within the radiated murk and H-bombed muck of “Mire’s” December radiation fallout beginning.  Stuntebeck’s jagged pacing soon turns to effortless polyrhythmia as the bass gains increasing ground on the guitar’s sharply pointed, obtusely fluctuated riff n’ whitewash division.  Piercing, black metal-tinged melody-bursts rip through the musical muscles and bones to the surface of FP’s most deliberate and directly riff-coated doom/sludge skin shedding to date.  Several left turns into ghastly clean drops lured my ears into accepting the fact that the song might pluck along that route all the way until the finale, but I was fuckin’ elated when bloated corpse sludge swagger opened its bowels and unleashed a decaying stench of powerhouse depression swing from the grave.  Said “groove” is speckled by twinkling, gorgeously grating melodies, robust and unexpectedly progressive bass lickin’ and a Kraken-sized, octoman drum assault from Dylan that honestly blows my brains out of my eardrums more than several other, often lauded drum greats.  Massive album closer “Veiled by Summoners” slips into a blues-weaned 4/4, classic doom/sludge tempos during the build-up, even though the actual amplified emanations are twisted n’ gnarled lengths of melodically crusty Oak bitten to the bitter end by termites, pumped full of mosquito stings and generally covered in moss, madness and malice to the extent where if you even come into the slightest contact of this time-defying tree you will die.  They carry over the frayed filth into clean runs that sound derelict and distant.  There’s a gargantuan 70s prog unfolding to this song’s many various passages; intense, ponderous urges of blackness descend into transcendental psychedelic ambience and then galaxy quelling negative riffs come down from the Heavens to judge man for the final time.  They never settle on being just one thing and this composition benefits for it, especially.  These cats hit hard as hell but rely on thoughtfulness and finesse just as much as the haymaker blows.

Flood Peak is another proud torchbearer of the Oregon lineage that puts a heady, hefty spin on sludged-out doom.  With cold, fiercely Northern guitar textures that weld melody and spacy gracefulness to fetid desolation riffing, and a rhythm section that can mad dash circles around the average post-doom bear this power trio from Hell is going to be exciting to watch evolve.  In the meantime, Flood Peak is a band oozing chemistry and creativity within the style and Plagued by Sufferers is a highly worthy first outing that gets better with each subsequent listen.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
October 17th, 2018

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