Heavy Music Awards 2018 Overview (Black Peaks, Milk Teeth)

Photograph by Eleanor Bridger.

Photograph by Eleanor Bridger.

KOKO | 23rd August 2018

This year's HMAs takes place in Camden's KOKO; its iconic crimson-clad interior serving as the home of all things metal and hard rock. Tonight sees the likes of Coldbones, Black Peaks, Milk Teeth and The Fever 333 taking the stage between the ceremony itself, which determines the winners of categories such as Best Live Band, Best Album and Best UK Breakthrough Band.

Black Peaks ★★★★

Initial thoughts dictate that Black Peaks have turned up, but the crowd have not, for frontman Will Gardner demonstrates his tremendous stamina from the start, refusing to let up and constantly urging onlookers to make a ruckus. Black Peaks' live aura far better captures their chaotic, desperate sound heard on Statues, which one can only hope will be found fiercer on their next effort, All That Divides. 

The Brighton band's post-metalcore, Mastodon-like stance is ideal for KOKO's alternative feel and for the hundreds of strangely static hard rock fans on the main floor, but perhaps they should be higher up the bill. If anyone in this building is prepared to support closing act The Fever 333, it's Black Peaks.

After several songs it's clear that drummer Liam Kearley is the glue holding the act together - ferocious percussion on his part complements Gardner's vocals excellently and allows Black Peaks' performance to bang against the bloody walls of the venue. They're better here than they were back in 2016 when they supported Deftones at The SSE Arena, but it's safe to say they'll bring the house down when they play Camden's Underworld on 19th October.

Milk Teeth ★★★

It must be the night of the percussionists as Milk Teeth's Oli Holbrook is also keeping his band above water with his immaculate playing. Milk Teeth's flashy punk rock is entertaining but falls short of impressive, not only because of Black Peaks energetic set prior but also due to a lack of crowd engagement from the group. Hearing frontwoman Becky Blomfield sing proves that Nirvana's influence is still rife in alternative music 24 years later, with the singer opting for a Cobain approach at the front. Blomfield is best at her most assertive - like Hole's very own Courtney Love.

Whoever was employed as a light technician for tonight deserves a pat on the back, as they've ensured all of the acts don't become uninteresting for long, boosting their stage presence tenfold even in front of the still sceptical crowd. Perhaps Black Peaks really should be playing now, as the time to get a few rounds between sets nor the music itself has yet jolted the audience into gig-mode.

Milk Teeth aren't exactly yawn-inducing - as they come to play their finest song of the set, Smiling Politely's 'Swear Jar', one gets a Sonic Youth notion, contrasting their Pixies-esque studio version. Milk Teeth are ever-evolving; they are the winners of Best UK Breakthrough Band, and have plenty of growing to do after celebrating their achievement. But to be increasingly noticed against tight competition from acts like False Advertising and Kagoule, they'll have to deliver their sets with a little more conviction. 

The winners of this year's Heavy Music Awards are:

Best Album: While She Sleeps - You Are We

Best Live Band: Gojira

Best International Band: Metallica

Best Album Artwork: Sixth - The Future In Whose Eyes?

Best Festival: Hellfest Open Air

Best UK Band: Architects

Best UK Breakthrough Band: Milk Teeth

Best International Breakthrough Band: Knocked Loose

Best Photographer: Ed Mason

Best Producer: Will Putney

The H: (outstanding contribution award) Sophie Lancaster Foundation