- Band / Artist Periphery
- Genre Math/Progressive Metal
- Label Sumerian Records
- Year 2012
- Format Album
“Periphery II- This Time It’s Personal”, the second full-length release from Maryland based Progressive/Math Metal outfit Periphery. Featuring guitar wizard Misha ”The Bulb” Mansoor, Jake Bowen and Mark Holcomb on guitars, Spencer Sotelo on vocals, Matt Halpern on drums, and Adam Getgood on bass, the band has gone several line-up changes before producing their sophomore effort, via contemporary Metal nursery, Sumerian Records. Periphery II has a play-time of almost 70 minutes with a mixed bag of Progressive Metal, Math Metal, and-for the lack of better words - Pop.
“Muramasa” opens the album with a glitchy, delay-heavy cracker- Jack clean guitar tone, and Sotelo gives us a taste of what is about to ensue. “Have A Blast” follows suit with a cello tune for an intro before delving head first into the fray with Matt Halpern’s mad blast beats and the guitar trio of Mansoor, Holcombe, and Bowen taking care of business right off. Guest guitar-guy Guthrie Govan pulls of a short and sweet solo to make this track all the more memorable. Atmospherics seem to play a very important role on this album, seeing that they pop up every now and then, adding a new angle to the 14-track experience, and it’s not a bad thing either, given the room for experimentation that is there on a Modern Progressive Metal album these days. “Facepalm Mute” the cheekily titled 3rd track opens with an eerie yet crushing groove intro and houses a most soothing outro. There is a certain charm and flair in all the songs that makes you listen attentively every time you turn the record for those hidden cookies. For example, 4th track “Ji” moves in and out of a ballad-ish feel while at the same time there are gang chants and death growls thrown into the mix as well. Up next, is the album favourite “Scarlet”: boasting of an impressive groove, delicious clean guitars and vocals and a memorable chorus; did I mention the vocals were surreal? They are, as a matter of fact. “Luck As A Constant”, another album favourite features a clean guitar segment for an intro and then pushes into heavier territory with perfectly synchronized guitar parts followed by thick palm-muted riffing. The track is reminiscent of a standard Textures track, minus the Post-Hardcore like vocals, with heavy dollops of polyrhythmic songwriting; the clean groove off the 3:53 mark makes the track worthy of some more replay-value. “Ragnarok” features some crazy and well- timed use of electronic effects and personally one of the best moments for Sotelo on the album given how he ends the last note on the track. “The Gods Must Be Crazy”, a track named after one of the most entertaining movies ever, is wear Matt Halpern makes his presence felt, or rather, why he is the top-dog in what he does. Honestly though halfway through, the track generated a Veil Of Maya feel for hitherto unknown reason, till Mark Holcombe’s rhythm section recaptured imagination.
"Make Total Destroy" is up next. This is the point where you realize that Periphery is in love with groovy guitar segments and there are very few segments where they do not live up to their own taste. Spencer Sotelo and the rest do a lot of justice to the track, with the production garnering some attention given how crisp everything sounds. That groove is going to keep ringing in your ear long after the song is over and so is that fat and juicy palm muted riffing. “Erised” is the 10th track on the album, and features Dream Theatre wizard John Petrucci. The track while possesses major bragging rights since it has a Petrucci solo in it, is not all that oh-so-amazing as one might expect given the collaboration, and that is a bit of a letdown. But that is not to say the track is not good at all; the bass tone on this one has a nice sweet hum to it that clicks with the rest of the parts. This is where you feel thankful for the addition of Adam Getgood, the cool dude who plays guitars in Red Seas Fire, for fulfilling bass duties. “Epoch” plays like album filler with, eating up precious run-time for the album where we would have been much better off had the guitar trio improvised something instead of orchestrating an electronica track that feels out of place in its entirety. “Froggin’ Bullfish” the 12th track opens like a cartridge-era TV video game for me where the boss was hot on the pinkie-sized protagonist’s case. Jokes apart, it’s an interesting track to dig your teeth into: the guitar layers are well written and sound amazing, Sotelo is at his best as usual, the polyrhythm are in place. What gets you hooked is the beautifully written acoustic segment past the 4 minute mark. Penultimate track “Mile Zero” features the final guest appearance on the album, in the form of The Faceless’s guitarist Wes Hauch. The intro riff nails the mood in which the song is intended for, and having four guitarists on board is just the icing on the cake! By the time you’re done peeling the layers of this one there shall be new material on the horizon. The track fades into the final track on the album “Masamune”. What’s noteworthy about this track is that as Sotelo’s voice switches from death growls to cleans, the lyrics keep flowing remarkably and the pitches keep soaring. That’s not all. The track ends with a skull-crushing riff, which the band has possibly been saving up till now.
While Djent is primarily about guitar chops, having a good pair of lungs to top it off has become an important part of the sound equation; Periphery II sees Spencer Sotelo reach newer depths of his amazing vocal skills, such that it adds much character to the new album. Periphery II breaks new ground with its instrumental sections. Be it the spanking clean sections or the chord progressions in “Have A Blast”, Periphery have come a long way even if they are only two albums old. The Periphery II sound is puts the debut record to shame (so as to speak). A few turns of the album and you are (not so) quick to realize that Sotelo has major Pop sensibilities which add a Pop-Punk or rather a Post-Hardcore flavour (cue: Muramasa cleans). 5th track “Scarlet” features him pulling some high pitch cleans a la Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan. That is not to say that Periphery have taken a melodic route altogether, Sotelo performs death growls aplenty in tracks like “Make Total Destroy”, “Ragnarok” and the aforementioned “Scarlet”. You may compare him with a ton of other clean vocalists who may or may not be related to Metal, but does Sotelo do his job? THE HELLZ YEAH!
Commandeering an exponentially growing fan-base, Periphery is the frontrunner of the modern Progressive Metal race. A unique group of musicians with a virtuoso repertoire, the band has returned with polished chops that would have once been expected from bands that were making comebacks after a 5-year long hiatus. Periphery has stretched the term Modern Metal and the debatable coinage “Djent” to their fullest extent to fit their sound in it. A big step up from their debut LP which was some quality music in its own right, one can only imagine what this band is due to unearth in years to come. Even lyrically, the band has progressed fathoms deep: sample second track “Having A Blast”. There are electronic influences scattered all over the album like the giant finger prints from suspect number one, which are enjoyable at times (cue: Ragnarok) but mess up the palette fast. Production is top-notch for obvious reasons, fusing the multiple layers like a beautifully crafted cake. Often times it is noted that people complain how bands that use the “Djent” sound have a glitch->clean intro->groove->breakdown as filler->spacey outro formula, but not on a Periphery album. The band has clearly researched the tracks part by part, ensured that the tracks have a distinguishable feature and stand out from, well, everything else. It would behove most before they title this one as a Meshuggah rip-off. Common knowledge or rather ignorance label mostly labels this brand of music as over- the- top ornamental song-writing and guitar- wankery but that’s a whole load of hogwash; Periphery is as much a thinking man’s band as much as they are sarcastic individuals as their online personas dictate. This time truly it’s personal!
Pros: Refreshing vocals, the guitar trio, heck the band-members are perfect pieces of jigsaw.
Cons: Listen to this one with an open mind and the few that are there, are negligible compared to what the record accomplishes. Just because it’s a Progressive Metal record, doesn’t mean it has to have a 26-minute long solo.
The strings keep on getting added and the tunings keep getting lowered, Periphery keeps evolving with respect to its own gargantuan musical prowess. Chock full of variety, this album is a must have.
Arkadeep Deb, as of now is a 20 year old engineering student from Kolkata. When he’s not harmlessly trolling around or watching Two and a Half Men re-runs, he dabbles in all-things-Metal, Photography, Songwriting, Reviews, you name it. While building up his chops in guitar/ vocals as we speak, he’s doing his utmost to represent the genre he loves, protesting social-stereotyping and pigeon-holing of its followers and lending a patient ear to the beloved underground. His first tryst with Metal was 5 years ago, when one fateful day he popped a bootleg SLIPKNOT: SUBLIMINAL VERSES and LAMB OF GOD: ASHES OF THE WAKE split-record in the cd-tray. There has been no looking back ever-since.