Periphery - Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
Record Label: Sumerian Records
Release Date: July 3, 2012
For roughly two years now, we’ve been waiting patiently for a follow up to the self-titled album that put Periphery on the map. Now seemingly unable to escape the label of a groove called djent, the band has finally returned with a second self-titled album of sorts, Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal. Despite the slightly tongue-in-cheek though aptly fitting title and the RPG-inspired track names, this second round proves to take seriously huge strides in the bands maturity of being more than just a djent band. Bolstered from musical progression from the band as a whole, as well as a huge improvement in delivery and variety from vocalist Spencer Sotelo, Periphery II sets itself apart with bobbing grooves, fiery melodies and a truly epic feel. Simply said, this album proves well worth the wait.
There has always been a mixed bag of opinions when it comes to Sotelo and his addition to the band. This time around though, his addition and contributions to the tracks prove to be huge. Never just relying on one or two approaches to his voice. Sotelo shows both smooth melodies (“Have a Blast”, “The Gods Must Be Crazy!”) and aptly commanded, yet versatile scream that supports and melds with the often chaotic instrumentation rather than feel separate from everything else. Lyrically his lines very much fit the epic, almost fantasy like landscapes these tracks paint at times (“Scarlet”, “Ragnarok”). It’s almost as if these tracks suggest an adventure akin to the source of their name with the rugged rhythms and vast electronic bursts plotted throughout.
But in saying that, be reaffirmed that the arguable reason Periphery attracted many of us in the first place is still intact. Musically, Periphery II still displays stellar command of rhythms, melodies and structures that maintain a energetic, confident vibe as the band slips in and out of rhythmic bases and monolithic arrangements. Whether its the sluggish riff of “Muramasa” or an uptempo attack such as “Facepalm Mute”, which also wins the honorable mention award for creativity in a song title, Periphery pick their moments of ‘pure riffery’ with seemingly versatile execution while somehow keeping things coherent. The trio of guitar solos this disc sees doesn’t hurt either, particularly the very sonically fitting and well-performed John Petrucci (Dream Theather) bit from “Erised” – a passage that also fits the bill of keeping up the rather mesmerizing vibe this album seems to have despite some truly overwhelming moments otherwise in production where it is difficult to figure out exactly what is going on.
It’s really a matter of stepping a bit away from the pulsing nature of palm mutes and harnessing Sotelo in a way that doesn’t sound forced. "Facepalm Mute", “The Gods Must Be Crazy!” and “Scarlet” all show a band that is adamant about keeping its musicianship top-notch while giving us a infectious melodies vocally and instrumentally. It’s a very progressive leaning sound that still keeps the band’s heart – including some slick and immersive programming laced throughout ("Epoch", "Ragnorak") – giving Periphery II the ability to appeal even further than the first did. There’s just something that clicks this time around, whether it be Sotelo's first true chance to meld in writing with the band or the addition of guitarist Mark Holcomb, that makes the very sporadic nature of this album palatable – even for someone that isn’t overly familiar with the band or what they’ve done in the past.
Even as the band’s sophomore release, Periphery II ups the ante and leaves any doubt in the dust. Technically stunning and catchy to boot, the band’s second chapter only reaffirms their collective talent and assures us they have a bright future as they progress both as musicians and songwriters. It would only be naive to bet against this band right now, as Periphery II is sure to define the band’s future as one of this year’s best records.
Spencer's vocals are the strong highlight of the album for me, he stepped up and it REALLY works wonders. Incredible instrumentation and consistently beefy production also shoot this way up.
9/10 for me.
Great review and love the album. I feel like these guys are some of the best to come along in the genre in a while. As a person that usually doesn't like metal, I love their debut and love this even more... When I thought it wasn't possible. Great job by the band...
And Erised is my favourite track right now. The drum break is so tasty!
I'm really interested to hear this thing. The first Periphery record was in the works for so long, a good portion of the songs on it had been around for ages in various incarnations. When they parted with Barretto and delayed that album once again to re-track his vocals, I was skeptical. Everyone has been saying that the vocal growth is impressive, I'm interested to hear it.