Album Review: Periphery - 'Periphery II'

8 July 2012 | 11:21 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Versatile and inspired.

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The sophomore album can be a killer in its own unassuming way. Particularly when the hype that surrounded your debut offering was greater than most often receive. Maryland djent, prog or perhaps just simply metal lovers Periphery have done the right thing here.

The band could've denied and distanced themselves from the 'djent' stylistic movement or they could've embraced it blindly to ridiculous and excessive levels. Putting aside the almost over dramatic, Hollywood-inspired album title 'Periphery II: This Time It's Personal', full-length number two is a massive step-up from its predecessor. There's no need for fancy labels or trendy acclaim, this album is solid.

It's contemporary metal that has a popular appeal but sans any gimmicky approaches. That statement might be open to debate, but to the savvy listener 'Periphery II' is hard to fault.

Periphery retain the polyrythms, Meshuggah-type tunings and proggy extended passages. But, this is their sound, not one that is borrowed and simply remoulded. 'Have A Blast' very early on highlights the versatility in this fourteen track slab. Heavy but equally accessible, with melody and tempo changes that keep the music interesting.

Spencer Sotelo's vocals always seem a point of contention from so-called keyboard warriors that anonymously pick fault in various online forms. Well, the joke appears on you here, with the vocals one of the components that makes this release whole.

There's a bit of the 'Koloss' b-side action going on in some of the riffs and the guest appearances by Dream Theater's John Petrucci and The Faceless' Wes Hauch will certainly add interest. 'Scarlet' is another string to Periphery's bow. It's less metal and more catchy but still prominent. Main single 'Make Total Destroy' compliments the sound. It's brutal in points and harmonic in others.

Where the debut self-titled album had a few holes and areas of improvement, this release seems more tight in both production and delivery. It's that natural progression every band should strive to achieve. Very good.

On paper the musical cynic could be forgiven for thinking we were due for a letdown here. Periphery hit their marks on album one, but how far could they push this sound and keep it innovative? Evidently, the boundaries have been increased and the potential matched. The listener will enjoy and benefit from an engaging sound on 'Periphery II: This Time It's Personal'. In the self-professed words of Periphery on their debut release…"Periphery - love that shit!"

1. Muramasa
2. Have a Blast (Guthrie Govan guest solo)
3. Facepalm Mute
4. Ji
5. Scarlet
6. Luck as a Constant
7. Ragnarok
8. The Gods Must Be Crazy!
10. Erised (John Petrucci guest solo)
11. Epoch
12. Froggin' Bullfish
13. Mile Zero (Wes Hauch guest solo)
14. Masamune