Posts Tagged ‘periphery’

There aren’t that many bands which had a so solid and successful debut-record like Periphery had back in 2010. The refined rythm-finesse of Meshuggah and SikTh met the sophisticated guitar-melodies of Dream Theater; the djent-phenomenon was born, and with bands like TesseracT and Textures they introduced the world to what many considered the next big thing. Still, many people, including myself, worried about that the potential already was at its peak, and that there wasn’t that much left to impress the world with.

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Therefore, ‘Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal’ has since its announcement been a record I’ve been looking forward to – both in negative and positive ways. Is the surprisingly high levels of originality and variation maintained? And how have they handled their position in a genre many consider as dying? Unfortunately, this record disappointed me more than I worried it could. Instead of a bit more unoriginal continuation of the first record, we’ve got a mediocre one where the well-functioning elements of Meshuggah’s and DT’s music is left behind in favor of more elements from genres like mathcore and metalcore. And lots of electronica. Yes, you read that right: Electronica is actually a pretty prominent element of the music.

Anyway, the record actually opens pretty well with the “accomodating” electronic sounds and guitars accompanied by the safe and slow rythm on ‘Muramasa’. However, the less pleasant elements of the record already starts to show on ‘Have a Blast’, where a rather uninspired guitar melody is followed by a pretty chaotic song-structure with fast-paced verses, a sudden breakdown and a bridge with clichè-filled vocal lines. Unfortunately these negative aspects speaks for a lot of the albums material; the structure on songs like ‘Ji’ and the last track ‘Masamune’ feels a bit weird and poorly thought out in the end. While this usually works out in for example Opeth’s music, Periphery’s fast-paced outfit makes it hard to make it work here, even though it did in the few cases on their last album.

The main problem here is the lack of the excellent professionality, refined complexity and variation of their last record, where the band showed they had full control over what they did. Periphery II is more reminiscent to a band who doesn’t really know what they want; while many songs is a total mess due to their variation, few songs actually stick out from the rest, and it seems like they’re trying too hard to be as original and mindblowing as possible.

The main reason for this is the vocals. While vocalist Spencer Sotelo’s range still is pretty stunning and the voice itself is well enough, it’s utilized in a rather bad way. Most of the time it feels extremely exaggerated, with cheesy clean vocal-lines reminding me of pop-punk, in addition to some really unappropriate growling sections with several vocal-layers up on eachother. It’s not that Spencer necessarily is a bad singer, but wether he actually fits as the singer of this band is discussable. Along with some weird mathcore-ish passages, and the already mentioned song-structures he namely makes big parts this record a little more chaotic than it should be.

While there’s pretty much disappointing stuff on this album, there are still some highlights worth to be mentioned. For example; the drumming of Matt Halpern keeps him in his position as one of the best modern metal-drummers out there, and – of course – the guitar magnificence especially main guitarist Misha Mansoor has been recognized for earlier, makes up for some pretty good moments here. The riffs on ‘Scarlet’ (where the vocals actually works pretty well too) is nothing else than entertaining to listen to. The intro-riffs on songs like ‘Ragnarok’, ‘Luck As A Constant’ and ‘MAKE TOTAL DESTROY’ however, makes up a pretty good first-impression of the songs with cool atmospheres and rythm-patterns, in addition some damn cool tapping.

Then we have come to the rather weird and unpredictable element of the record: the electronic stuff, which have emerged out of guitarist Jake Bowen’s interests. These things usually show up in the end of the songs; some feels imposted and inconsistent, while others – like the ambient outro of ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy!’ – has the originality and potential I’m looking for. Unfortunately, instead of giving parts like these post-rock-ish things time to shine a little more, the pretty uninteresting and boring track ‘Epoch’ – which first and foremost brings back memories from the pause-menu music on a rally-game I played in the third grade – has become the little interlude of the record. However, the song where these elements draws up the quality along with some damn cool bass-fills, is the soothing track ‘Erised’, which remains as one of my favorites.

But ‘Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal’ still is a very disappointing record, which I first and foremost will remember for the many times I just tried to understand why some websites gave it a 9.0-score. I will never understand those people who think this is a leap forward from their last record; for me this is an almost frightening setback where lots of the original ideas just have disappeared in favor of the more uncertain and chaotic aspects of the band. Due to some highlights and bright spots this isn’t a bad record, but from a band like Periphery I expected lots of the things that I didn’t get in the end. A shame, because the band still has lots of potential.

5.0/10.0

Recommened tracks: Scarlet, Erised

Alexander Lange

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