Periphery - Periphery
Record Label: Sumerian Records
Release Date: April 20, 2010
It's not too often that one discovers a truly original modern metal band. In a scene full of breakdowns, lyrics of mutilation, and bands focusing more on "brutality" than connecting with people, it's easy to become disenchanted with the genre. Then there's Periphery, who give serious hope to proving themselves a cut above the rest. For those of you not familiar with the band, Misha Mansoor (under his pseudonym, "Bulb") almost single-handedly popularized the term "djent" (from the renowned source Urban Dictionary: "Djent is used to describe a certain kind of guitar tone characterized by medium-high gain, a quick-release noise gate to emphasize staccato playing, a cut of bass below 200Hz for a tight low end, a slight boost around 800Hz for clarity, and a noticeable boost around 1.6Khz to emphasize pick attack. When a two octave power chord is palm-muted with this tone, a "djent" sound is created rather than the typical chunkier sound") with his bedroom metal, made with programmed drums and various forms of amp simulators.
Over the years the band has earned a strong reputation for self production, but held off on a record contract until finding the ideal label that let them control their own recording and production of the album, Sumerian Records. After being together for five years, with the band already on their fourth vocalist and second drummer, their debut album has finally arrived.
The album begins with a crescendo of ambient guitar and synthesizer effects, being suddenly interrupted by a plummeting polyrhythm after a few seconds, in the track "Insomnia". Spencer Sotelo's screams, while slightly frog-like, hold strong throughout the song and for the rest of the album. Where the album truly shines however, is in Sotelo's singing (which is not unlike a combination between their two previous vocalists, Casey Sabol and Chris Barretto, and perhaps a touch of Cove Reber) when combined with the almost unpredictable nature of their music. Yet throughout, the band manages to not sound at all similar to other contemporary "chaotic" bands.
Most tracks flow easily with the help of electronic intros and outros, and other idiosyncratic methods used by the band (In the track "Icarus Lives", a 50's style announcer speaks about Periphery, thanking the user for buying the album, and speaks about the members of the band and their selling points for a good thirty seconds, before abruptly moving onto the next track.)
The weaker parts of the album occur where the songs focus on Sotelo's screams, as they are noticeably less powerful than some of his predecessors. Those unfamiliar with the bands past work (which mostly includes extremely well done self produced demos) will probably not notice this to the same extent. "The Walk" in particular (given its exclusively screamed vocals), sounds out of place compared to the rest of the tracks, where Sotelo's singing is clearly his forte.
The lyrics throughout the album prove to be solid, as Sotelo belts out in "The Walk": "Reach for the light / and feel the hand of God. / The uncertainty of my existence can be decided by the choice of a path I must walk". While not being the most inspirational lyrics that have ever been written, it is refreshing for a metal band to not be caught up in the idea of "brutal" lyrics.
The rest of the band is not to be dismissed, however. Every track is a barrage of polyrhythms, harmonies, tastefully done guitar solos, complex drum fills, and a balance of melody, brutality, emotion, and technicality that few metal bands can claim to have balanced as well as Periphery. From beginning to end, Periphery's self titled debut is a wonder to behold, and in my mind, will inspire modern metal for the next decade, and with the sincerity, originality, and technical abilities of this band, that can only be a good thing.
Listened to Icarus Lives! and now am absolutely hooked. They're gonna be big.
I've felt that way about this band for so long; I am so happy to see them getting exposure. They've been big on websites like sevenstring.org and 'djent' circles worshipped them (as they have almost taken what was once considered a guitar tone and have turned it into a subgenre of sorts), and now everyone is seeing how awesome they are.