For Fans Of
So we’re almost a month into 2015 and we’ll soon be making our way through the knee high level of brilliance and utter shit that will be coming our way in the coming months. But, it’s pretty safe to say that Periphery have never really been shit, have they? Their mixes and tones are impeccably clear and clean, their musicianship is tight and vastly technical, and their songwriting abilities are solid all round. Now, adding to the ever-expanding list of things they can do is the often contrived and usually ill-conceived concept album, or rather, albums, as there are two slabs of progressive metal to tear through – ‘Juggernaut: Alpha’ and ‘Juggernaut: Omega’. This review covers the first of these…juggernaut albums (apologies, couldn’t resist).
Straight off the bat, there is a strong focus on ambiance, atmosphere and melody on this record. This is most evident on the post-metalish soundscape of ‘A Black Minute’, which really shows off the band’s melodic side and singer Spencer Sotelo’s soaring vocals, and a fantastical clear and clean mix to help drive everything home. Though it’s not just the opening song that is filled with the band’s “easier” side. The mid-album instrumental, ‘The Event’, the synth laden, soaring title track and the surprisingly poppy ‘Heavy Heart’ are all massive in scope and soaring in their tones. ‘Heavy Heart’ in particular is definitely poppier and more hook-focused but, like ‘Scarlet’, it’s more of a feather in the bands cap than a quick radio-friendly cash grab.
Now, once all of that beauty rings out, it’s the heavier side of the group that steps up to the plate. There are still the guttural, wounded-sounding screams of Sotelo and the brutal, mosh-heavy sections that the band incorporates so well. ‘Psychosphere’, ‘MK Ultra’ (which sounds like good ol’ SikTh) and the chugg-heavy instrumental of ‘Four Lights‘ feature a lot of these heavier moments, but they still retain their melodic, poppier mentality, just less so than the others. ‘MK Ultra’ in particular gets a bit experimental and jazzy with its instrumentals, especially at its end.
In fact, each and every song is a showcase of each members talents; Matt Halpern’s powerful drumming, Sotelo’s soaring cleans and guttural screams, Jake Bowen, Misha Mansoor and Mark Holcomb’s bewilderingly solid riffs, licks, solos and skills that all link together, and Getgood’s (ha, the name never gets old) controlled, yet massive bass tone.
With three guitarists, you can really cover all bases of what metal music can do; heavy riffs, swirling solos, gorgeous melodies and leads, and all kinds of technical wankery that one guitarist cares about. Guitarists and fans alike will revel in it, but the metal elitist fanboys out there probably won’t dig it, but that’s cool, they’re not much fun to hang out with anyway. Also, a special mention to Halpern, arguably the coolest member of Periphery whose playing is, as per usual, tighter than a nun’s vagina.
‘Juggernaut: Alpha’, as like the Bible verse (thanks for that one Fallout 3!), is just the beginning, it’s the origin, it’s the birth of this character and this story.
Dear all Periphery fans out there, listen up. If you’re one of the neck-beard spouting, fedora wearing, Misha Mansoor obsessed fans; you’ll love this album to no end. If you’re one of the aspiring guitarists out here, here is your holy bible for 2015, and possibly for the next few years. Finally, for all of the normal Periphery fans out there, this is yet another solid album, one that is great by itself, and in the context of its counterpart record. Speaking of which, let us get to that…
1. A Black Minute
2. MK Ultra
3. Heavy Heart
4. The Event
5. The Scourge
7. 22 Faces
8. Rainbow Gravity
9. Four Lights