Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal

01. Muramasa
02. Have A Blast
03. Facepalm Mute
04. Ji
05. Scarlet
06. Luck As A Constant
07. Ragnarok
08. The Gods Must Be Crazy
10. Erised
11. Epoch
12. Froggin’ Bullfish
13. Mile Zero
14. Masamune

[Sumerian Records]

It’s not often that a band travels as quickly into the upper echelons of the metal world as Periphery has. Only now hitting their sophomore release, they boast one of the most rabid fanbases in the genre, arguably for both good and bad. It was all well earned, though; before Periphery came around, not many people were playing such technically demanding and rhythmically complicated music that was also extremely melodic and accessible, blowing the door wide open to the genre of progressive metal from all sides. The fact that they managed to do this while keeping their heads above water in the sea of copycats in commendable. The band’s second self-titled album continues the band’s ascent into relative superstar status and shows tremendous promise.

The album’s tongue-in-cheek tagline obviously reflects Periphery’s sarcastic sense of humor, but it certainly rings true, especially in the case of frontman Spencer Sotelo. This is the first time that Sotelo was actively involved in the writing process, as he was a hurried addition to a debut album that had long been written before his joining. With Periphery II, Sotelo wrote his own lyrics and vocal melodies, and it shows with his confident and charismatic delivery. His growth as a vocalist is remarkable in all forms, which should win a handful of critics over. His screams are much more full and powerful compared to the debut, at times even sounding downright vicious; the more experimental track ‘Froggin’ Bullfish’ has some outstanding snarling that will make naysayers double-take. He is without a doubt a driving force on the record, and anyone still clamoring for an instrumental release is irrationally begging for a fraction of the big picture. Sotelo was also adamant about recording vocals without the use of pitch correction, save for backing harmonies. As such, his performance feels much more organic.

On that front, the record as a whole feels more organic compared to their debut as well. Periphery II marks the first Periphery recording that features live recorded drums and the band has even stuck a balance in the mix for audible basslines (thanks to ex-Red Seas Fire guitarist and newest full-time member Adam “Nolly” Getgood), which is greatly welcomed after the triple-guitar attack from the last record drowned out the bass almost completely. It’s also no secret that Periphery are obsessed with tone and high-end gear selection, so the sonic quality of Periphery II is as close to perfect as you could likely get on a modern metal record.  Honestly, a better sounding modern metal record will be hard to come by.

It’s also worth mentioning that Periphery II has a leg-up in cohesiveness. Periphery felt like a collection of songs (a great collection, mind you) that were bridged together after the fact with ambient electronic passages. Periphery II definitely has that album feeling to it, especially with the reprisal of the lyrics and melody from the intro ‘Muramasa’ in ‘Ragnarok‘ and ‘Masamune.‘ There’s also a throwback to ‘Racecar’ from the debut album that shows up at the end of ‘Ragnarok’ that effectively turns Periphery’s material into a more collective body of related work rather than a scattered series of songs.

There aren’t many downfalls to Periphery II, and they all seem relatively inconsequential. Periphery II, like its predecessor, is a dense listen at over an hour in length. Perhaps a culling of tracks would have made a more profound statement. Despite sounding better and the band improving overall, the songs themselves aren’t as memorable this time around. That isn’t to say that Periphery II is filled with memorable or powerful songs, but they don’t resonate as well as many tracks on Periphery had. Perhaps this is due to being more familiar with the old material and the density of Periphery II makes it difficult to sink in at even a week’s time of high rotation, so this minor gripe should be taken with a grain of salt.

Even still, it’s no doubt that Periphery have come together with an excellent record that will not only define them, but further them into the kingdom of metal. Such a controversial and divisive band doesn’t pick up so much hype for no reason; no, after Periphery II, it’s clear that the band is on to something great, and to write such an album after half of the band is traded out over two years just goes to show how serious a force Periphery is to be reckoned with. Easily one of the most anticipated releases of the year, Periphery II delivers through the hype.

Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal gets…


– JR

PS: Hay Misha!

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