After waiting for a couple of years, rotating band members, and extensive touring, it’s finally here. Periphery‘s debut album Periphery is out. But was it worth all the wait and anticipation?

You bet your tits it was.

If you’re some jerk who is not familiar with Periphery, they combine the groove and complex math metal riffs of Meshuggah with soaring vocal melodies and beautiful ambient guitar work. This mending of styles works wonderfully. How’s about we combine the musical stylings of Meshuggah and Cynic together and give them an ambitious and passionate singer? You’re in for a treat.

Periphery utilizes three guitarists, and they put all three to good work (unlike Whitechapel. CHUG CHUG x3). In any given song, you’ll have two guitars playing slight variations on a complex riff while the third guitarist plays a melodic lead or faint atmospheric notes. Sometimes, the three will even play something completely different from each other (one instance in this can be heard in the 15 minute prog metal feast “Racecar”, featuring a solo by Nevermore’s Jeff Loomis), giving a very interesting and complex polyphonic layering.

The songwriting is outstanding where some other progressive metal bands just seam some random passages together without too much thought going into the work as a whole. It shows in the detail in the song structure and production that Periphery mastermind Misha “Bulb” Mansoor put a lot of effort into this album. The songs are extremely catchy and each song has contributing elements that make them all memorable.

The album has few weak points, and the most obvious one is in singer Spencer Sotelo’s screamed vocals. Sure, they’re passable, but they often lack necessary power and can be very airy. I think Spencer’s singing ability is superb, so that more than makes up for it.  I appear to be the only one standing in the Sotelo boat; I think he’s the best singer Periphery has had. Casey Sabol is amateur hour compared to Spencer’s performance on this record.

There are also instrumental passages at the end of each song that attempt to tie the whole album together so there aren’t any gaps (with one hilarious exception at the end of “Icarus Lives!”). However, sometimes they feel a bit forced and were obviously written after the fact, and at times don’t fit, as in the bridge between “Buttersnips” and “Icarus Lives!” The thought was nice though, and the album would have been lacking without them. They could have had some better execution, however.

In retrospect, this is probably the most hyped up and anticipated debut album that has come out in the last few years, at least from what I can recall. Periphery have massive lasting power with this excellent first offering to the world, and they can only get bigger and better. I think we have future big names in metal on our hands.

Periphery – Periphery gets…


UPDATE: In hindsight, this album had such a great impression on me that I’m upping the score to a full 5/5. Suck it.

– JR


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