For Fans Of
When I found out that Periphery were slugging out yet another full-length, just shy of a year after their double-record ‘Juggernaut’ dropped, I had the biggest eye roll of my life and thought to myself, “Really? More?!” I mean, two albums in one year was pretty cool, but now a third one just a year or so later? To me that was really pushing it, especially considering ‘Juggernaut’ and I get along like one’s bowels do after a Taco Bell breakfast. That’s to say, not too swimmingly.
See, ‘Juggernaut’ or as I like to call it, ‘Jugger-Not’, left me dry and flaky akin to the feeling one gets after eating nothing but dry biscuits because you left your hummus at home. It didn’t have the kick in the guts that ‘Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal’ had, which left you with a strong sense of “Fuck, I need to listen to that album again and again.” Jugger-Not’ also didn’t have the lasting power of their mighty second album and I can hardly recall any songs from that dual concept record.
So naturally, like that one white guy who dislikes mayonnaise because “it’s too spicy for his taste buds”, I stay well and clear of ‘Jugger-not’ and was very sceptical when ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’ was announced. But because I’m bastard who likes bragging about interviewing bands and had a morning to kill, I took up the offer to interview drummer Matt Halpern recently, which consequently meant I got to give ‘Select Difficulty’ some early spins prior to the rest of you scrubs (and fuck oath did I feel good about it!) But what’s really worth mentioning is that the band have really stepped up their game with this new release. Like. A fuck tonne!
Every nuance of ‘Select Difficulty’ is so well ironed out to the most minute detail that every single second of this record feels silky smooth and glitteringly polished. It all feels so necessary and meaningful that every time a new section of a song came along, I found myself missing the previous one until I got swallowed up in the next big moment. Then the cycle would repeat itself and the feelings came rushing back as the songs and album progressed even further.
It was an emotional rollercoaster, I assure you.
There’s just something about ‘Select Difficulty’ that satisfies you. The chord progressions are so meticulously put together to maximise their impact, whilst the guitar solos and riffs feel like there’s been some actual level of thought put into them deeper than “This will show everyone else I’m a better guitarist than them!” (re-read that in Mike Tyson’s voice for maximum comedic value). There’s a great sense of melody and purpose to these riffs that just warms my soul. For reference, check out the solo on ‘Absolomb’. If that shit doesn’t make you cry then you’re emotionally dead inside and probably listen to too many mid-naughties hard rock bands.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that ‘Marigold’ is easily one of the best tracks the band has created. It’s monolithic in its sonic depth and scope, so much so that I just kept thinking “Goddamn, how is the next chorus gonna top this one?!” and low and behold – it topped it. Every single time. ‘Marigold’ is the kind of song that just keeps going up and up and doesn’t know when to stop climbing. Seriously, if they ever did anything with an orchestra backing them up a la BMTH, then this song would be the best fit for it. And oooooohhhhh boy, let me just say that when that first F-minor of the chorus kicks in, you’ll feel it in every fucking fibre of your being and then some.
Another notable mention goes out to ‘Remain Indoors’, which in a lot of ways fits the mould of ‘Marigold’ by being this huge, melodic soundscape that stretches farther than your ears can hear. It’s also relatively heavier than ‘Marigold’, getting its scope and massiveness from the low end rather than that of a large string section. There’s a bloody solid groove to this song that bounces back and forth so hard that I’m praying that it’ll be included in the live set so we can all go silverback-ape shit to it (no disrespect to my boy, Harambe. #dicksoutforharambe). The track stays in key for the majority of it run time which only adds to the track’s sonic beauty. That also allows for that dissonant F chord in the bridge to really kick you in your teeth when it lands.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Periphery record if there weren’t some gritty, downright filthy tracks on there that make you go “Phwoar!” Periphery really nails this with ‘Motormouth’ and ‘Flatline’, which both pack a ferocious amount of punch and power. The insane levels of intensity and brute force that these songs exert is surprising, even from a band that’s renowned for those kinds of songs.
Finally, special mentions to the beauties that are ‘Absolomb’ and ‘Lune’, two songs that made me feel things I never knew I could feel before. No, I’m not crying, there’s just something in my eye.
‘Select Difficulty’ is a great example of how to make a standout record in an otherwise swarmed and suffocating genre. Periphery seems no longer fussed about showing technical prowess above their peers but now seem far more focused on saying “Hey, look how fucking good we are at writing songs that could fill football fields.” With a big focus on the use of strings and a huge core of this album being centred around gloriously melodic choruses, this album is a great step in an even greater direction for the band. But the band hasn’t forgotten about the songs that make you want to hit things in a non-violent-yet-very-aggressive-way, and there’s plenty of that to be had here. Fuck…I need to listen to this album again.
Also! Notice how I didn’t say ‘djent’ once in this review until just now? Well, that’s because I’m a far better human and writer than all of you filthy peasants.
1. The Price is Wrong
4. The Way the News Goes…
5. Remain Indoors Periphery
6. Habitual Line Stepper
9. Catch Fire
10. Prayer Position