Saturday, 4 August 2012

Review: Periphery - Periphery II: This Time It's Personal

 If I'm honest I've been trying my hardest to avoid reviewing anything by Maryland metallers Periphery. And that's got nothing to do with disliking them in any way. What Periphery have managed to do in recent times is give the relevance of technical metal a good kick up the backside as metalcore became the only genre to attract proper mainstream attention to casual metal listeners. They're definitely a band that have made a significant impact in recent times and have received a deserving amount of attention as a result. However, I've been trying to avoid them since the only way you properly talk about Periphery is by being a total guitar geek. And frankly, I make Fred Durst's infamous live guitar solo attempt sound like John Petrucci.

 But there has always been more to Periphery's work than just displaying their guitar skills a la Necrophagist and the ability to delve into more progressive and atmospheric territory made their self-titled debut very much an absorbing and commendable release. On their follow up Periphery II: This Time It's Personal, a similar structure in songwriting returns, but sounds undeniably fresh and captivating as ever.

 It would be all to easy for me to attempt to prove this album to be great purely on account of the guitar work, and it's certainly nothing to look down on. Obviously, Misha Mansoor proves himself to be a modern day virtuoso on the shockingly dynamic time signature switches on Have a Blast and now iconic use of the palm muting technique that gives Falcepalm Mute and Masamune sonic levels of density that shows a lot of care applied within the songwriting to deliver a more crunching sound to the high levels of guitar to make it shine above any layers of synthesizers. Alongside Mansoor, when in conjunction with Mark Holcomb and Jake Bowen and the driving basslines of Adam Getgood, the brutality that the band can provide comes out and the breakdowns and grooves manage to ride along triumphantly while instantly hooking listeners along with their triple attack. Of course, the guitar work doesn't even end with them. Various guest appearances from the likes of John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan and The Faceless' Wes Hauch prove that Periphery have officially made enough friends within the progressive metal universe and gained enough of a reputation to rightfully gain the modern virtuoso title they've been getting.

 But, the work of Periphery goes far beyond having epic guitar work. Just like their debut, the amount of guitar work is balanced out by the amount of atmospheric elements programmed by Mansoor and Bowen. As the squealing backdrops of Ragnarok manages effectively to hint at a tone of spiked up urgency in the entire vein of the song while also making one think of sci-fi films and interlude Epoch delivers listeners into a euphoric state of awe-inspiring ambiance, there's clearly a lot that make this record a more fully-fledged effort at making a musical effort truly progressive that goes beyond just listening to guitarists prove why they're better than you. More emotional deliverance comes from the twisted vocal performance of Spencer Soleto, whose frantic growls in conjunction with intense melodic cries with a sprinkling of emo-tinged urgency deliver as effective a tone of wonder and shrieking immediacy as the guitars.

 So, I'm no guitar expert. I couldn't possibly talk about how to conduct a palm mute or how Mansoor creates the time signatures he does. But you don't need to know any of this to enjoy the experience of listening to Periphery II. The tone carried in guitar displays a richness that shines above any technical ability the band possess and with all elements of the album considered, the band's ability to hold you immersed within another world and transport you into epic soundscapes is what truly gives them their progressive sound. I love this album as someone that knows nothing about guitar but I don't need to to still have a great time listening. This is an album made by musical experts for everyone.

 Also, I managed to get through an entire Periphery review without any reference of the word "djent." Have it trend followers!

Periphery's Periphery II: This Time It's Personal is out now via Century Media. The band will tour the UK in October with Between the Buried & Me and The Safety Fire.

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