Periphery hasn’t even been in the music industry for more than two years and they’ve already sold a surprising amount of records and headlined their own tour! They released their debut self-titled record when I was on spring break in 2010. The only thing I can remember from that month was getting my pre-order of the new Annotations of an Autopsy album in the mail (which I LOVE) and seeing that goddamn Periphery logo EVERYWHERE I went on the internet to the point where I got sick of seeing it! After the hype about them had died down a bit (yet it still hasn’t died off yet, especially with a new album coming soon), I decided to listen to them. When my friend showed me the single off the album, Jetpacks Was Yes, I instantly understood why there has been THIS MUCH hype about them over the past two years! Two months after that, I saw them perform on stage and I’ve got my eye on the Sumerian Records website, waiting for the pre-orders to become available.
Of course, like 97% of all the other Sumerian Records artists, Periphery’s sound revolves around a Meshuggah-influenced pseudo breakdown that takes up most of each song. Although I’m not a big Meshuggah fan, I do think that it sounds pretty cool, especially when it’s just the blueprint of something completely different. That’s why I like many Sumerian bands like Veil of Maya, Animals as Leaders, Born of Osiris, Asking Alexandria, and After the Burial. But most of these bands (with the exception of Animals as Leaders and a few others) tend to have TOO much in common than what I would like. That’s why Periphery is extremely refreshing. If you don’t know quite what I’m talking about, notice that the majority of the bands on the Sumerian roster have screaming/growling as their main vocal style (aka screamo/deathcore/tech death/metalcore/etc.) That’s why Periphery, a band that focuses mainly on singing and more of their own progressive metal sound, sticks out to me as being one of the best.
But of course I try my best not to let record labels influence my opinion on bands. Periphery’s progressive metal sound reaches opposite corners of the genre that have already been touched and even further-expands the walls of the genre by going places where no band has ever dared to go before. The most interesting and unique trait that they carry is that they do that heavy Meshuggah breakdown thing, but have melodic keyboards and high-pitched singing that shouldn’t match, but flow with the rest of the music perfectly. The bassist doesn’t have the treble on his guitar turned up at all. Instead, he has the low-end booming to enhance the chugging of the guitars and the kick drums.
The best musician in the band BY FAR is the vocalist. Being the fourth (and the best) vocalist this band has had since their formation in 2005, Spencer has one of the cleanest, highest, and crisp singing voices that I’ve ever heard in my entire life. I’m talking like…this guy being the best singer I’ve heard since I first heard Greg Lake’s voice when I was in third grade (I’ll give a quarter to anyone who already knows who that is). Not only can he sing like no other, he can SCREAM like most others only wish they could. Obviously, the best example of his vocal abilities is in Jetpacks Was Yes, probably my (and most other people’s) favorite song off the record.
But that song isn’t what the whole album sounds like. Remember that I said that every corner in the metal genre is reached in this album. Well, where is the heavy shit then? The answer lies in Buttersnips (whatever that’s supposed to mean), The Walk, and most of all, Zyglrox. These aren’t the only songs, but they’re certainly the best HEAVY songs for those of you headbangers and moshers (especially the last one). In fact, those are the songs where the drummer takes the front-end. You get to hear his complex, deep, and LOUD kick drumming abilities in The Walk and Butternsnips. Not only that, his drumming is nearly impossible to keep up with because it keeps changing and occasionally hits something on an off-beat to try to throw you off. If you want to hear this guy’s blast beats, listen to Zyglrox, and don’t underestimate his skills; trust me. Honestly, Zyglrox sounds like a COMPLETELY different band than Jetpacks was Yes; there’s next to no similarities other than that the screaming sounds similar in both songs.
Insomnia, the opening track, is probably the best choice for the first song because it shows you a little bit of everything that Periphery plays on the record. It opens up with a trippy-sounding keyboard part that quickly transitions into the drummer pulling you into the explosive body of the song that gets everyone’s head banging. The singing sounds oddly out of place in some parts of the song because it’s his beautiful voice put on top of a really loud and heavy breakdown. When you think the fun is over after Zyglrox pounds you six feet into the earth, the fifteen-minute long track known only as Racecar takes you onto an entirely different path. This is where most of the progression takes place. Racecar remains the most important track on the album, opening up with an extremely tight and heavy Meshuggah sound; all of the chaos that Zyglrox left behind is let out of the cage, along with all of the melodic and jazzy elements. All of these sounds constantly fuse together and separate in different combinations and at different times. Racecar is a song that is the exact OPPOSITE of predictable and I would highly recommend you listen to that one if the rest of the album wasn’t progressive enough for you.
Periphery’s self-titled debut is a metal masterpiece and will always be remembered by all, no matter how long this band lasts. The amount of progression and genre-defying acts that Periphery does in this record is inconceivable and can only be believed if you listen to it. I would give this album a perfect score and I have exceptionally high expectations for their next record, because it’s hard to believe that it can get any better than this. But I’ve been proven wrong time and time again by countless other bands.