For those that thought Periphery were just “a band for bands”, that is, a band only to be obsessed over by tech enthusiasts and fret-watchers, you couldn't be more wrong. Periphery have gone from being low-profile and purely instrumental in their early days to becoming something else entirely – their latest double-sided offering 'Juggernaut: Alpha & Omega' is proof of that.
I can’t pretend I haven’t been immensely excited for the release of these two absolute treats of albums – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal hasn't left my car in a very long time (except to go into the CD players of all of my friends’ cars) - and hell, I had a reason to be excited.
Here, Juggernaut: Alpha & Omega are two albums that take us on a journey with six guys that know exactly what they are doing – their vision of the sound they set out to achieve is so focused…focused to the point that their album was entirely self-produced. So, we start with Alpha and opening track ‘A Black Minute’. Instantly we are hit with a dark, sassy, haunting yet delicate track that prepares us for an album full of possibilities. Later, we are blessed with the pure chug and doom of bangers ‘MK Ultra’ and ‘Four Lights’. However, in-between, we experience something different entirely. The polished and catchy ‘Heavy Heart’, verges on mainstream with lyrics, “turn the sad song up on the radio”. This track won’t be everyone’s favourite, but it shows that the band are aware how to be more accessible to a wider audience …and sure, it works. The band’s pristine, perfect sound is heard once again in the title track ‘Alpha’, which almost, (almost!) edges on the realms of pop-music, with its upbeat verses and vocals. But again, in homage to their djent roots, ‘Alpha’ brings us hurtling back down to earth with a delightfully sludge-ridden, hellish riff a mere 3 minutes in.
Alpha’s final track ‘Psychosphere’ brings all elements of the album together, in a reminder to fans of what it is that these guys are about. Dark, beautiful and intense – there is no easy way to describe the feeling this track evokes. If you were to visualise the moment in an action film where the plot thickens, the mission becomes clear, and shit gets get real – after the diversity of the earlier tracks, ‘Psychosphere’ draws it’s line in the sand, and ultimately puts Alpha into perspective.
Omega’s opener, ‘Reprise,’ follows on in fitting contrast to Alpha. With sexy and smooth vocals, Periphery singer, Spencer Sotelo, gets the opportunity in these albums to demonstrate a diverse vocal range.
Any listener in need of little more dirt, higher gain, and volume-up-to-11-heaviness after the perfection and cleanness of Alpha should fear not, as the absolute belters ‘Graveless’ and ‘Hell Below’ are peppered with heavy blast beats, and driven by spine-tingling awesome bass lines a-plenty. In a further display of the band’s ability and diverse influences, there’s a light touch of jazz in the intro of title track ‘Omega’, where it becomes tempting to draw upon comparisons with The Dillinger Escape Plan - certainly not a bad thing.
Omega closes with the stunning progressiveness of ‘Stranger Things’. Combining both aggressive and delicate elements, switching between soft, atmospheric guitars and Sotelo’s hair-raising, throaty shouts.
Throughout this double album, it becomes clear that Periphery are masters of what they do. They are able to take risks; this release is packed with a massive variety of styles and sounds. These albums showcase grown up tracks such as ‘Psychosphere’, plus a couple of less metal numbers. This band definitely know how to generate feelings, emotions and they use this to good effect: whether it’s to bounce around the room like an idiot, or ask the listener to sit and reflect – they can do it all, because they are experienced musicians, who can work together as a unit, having matured over the course of this journey upwards from their djent days.
Given this maturity and departure from an obvious and streamlined genre, the release might not please all current fans, and may require concentration in order to truthfully to comprehend the message the band are trying to convey, but the main thing is, they are creating, they are evolving, whilst always remaining true to their roots. Long may it continue.
Review by Megan Elliott
- Recent additions