ALBUM NAME: Periphery III: Select Difficulty
RELEASE DATE: 22 July 2016
GENRE: Progressive metal/Djent
Spencer Sotelo – vocals
Misha Mansoor – guitar/programming
Matt Halpern – drums
Jake Bowen – guitar/Programming
Mark Holcomb – guitar
Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood – bass guitar/programming/production
Who would’ve though that just over a year after the release of ‘Juggernaut: Alpha/Omega’, we would be here again reviewing a new Periphery album? ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’ marks the bands fifth full-length LP, having been written in a mere couple of months.
“It was kind of like, let’s get together and write for fun because we have some downtime…we wrote the whole record in probably two months I’d say” – Spencer Sotelo
In terms of musicality, this might possibly be Periphery’s most consistent release to date. The album displays their typical use of syncopation and poly-rhythms with just a touch of dissonance. Spencer shows off his vocal abilities with his versatile screaming tones in ‘The Price Is Wrong’ and ‘Motormouth’ and stratospheric vocal melodies throughout his singing on the album. There are also some of the most beautiful guitar melodies I think they have ever written, such as the melodies in ‘The Way The News Goes’ which force the listener to start paying attention (and force me to turn the volume up..) right from the first bar. I will say however, the chorus to this very same song is rather uncomfortable to listen to due to the very one dimensional drumming. But fear not! The guitar and vocal melodies still put this song among one of the best on the album.
I have always found Periphery to be a band for musicians, and by this I mean, they are so musically technical, that a lot of their masterful tricks are lost on the average listener. ‘Absolomb’ is a perfect example of this. I cannot say enough good things about this song. It is the perfect display of technicality in its unique tones, times signatures and off-beat rhythms, while still possessing a catchy sing-a-long chorus. It progresses from a unique bassline into one of the most polished works Periphery have ever written. Much like ‘Absolomb’, the songs ‘Habitual Line Stepper’ and ‘Prayer Position’ demonstrate all that Periphery are, and the collaborative writing synergy is evident.
Trying to comprehend all that Periphery do musically is exhausting, which is why the more commercially appealing songs like ‘Flatline’ and ‘Catch Fire’ are a breath of fresh air. Still encompassing the typical technicality, but in a far less confusing way with catchy melodic vocals that are hard to forget.
The production is no less than phenomenal, regardless of what medium you listen through. I have listened to this album in my car, through headphones, earphones and Shox. Songs like ‘Marigold’, ‘Absolomb’ and ‘Remain indoors’ are truly experiential due to the atmospheric production value. There is a versatile use of instrumentation on this album that I missed on Juggernaut, with symphonic strings and piano both playing big roles in painting the picture. Although there is less programming on this album than I expected, the way it is used in ‘Remain Indoors’ with typical video game tones, reiterates the cheesy album title.
Emotionally this album takes you on a roller coaster. Regardless of the lyrical content (which fluctuates between anger, frustration and love), the musicality and the way Spencer uses his voice are far more emotive than any words. There were honestly moments that I would have to exhale and take a moment to absorb all I was feeling. This is why I think ‘Lune’ is the best possible way to end an album, it is much slower and somewhat reflective. It leaves you oddly satisfied, yet in need of more. Which is why I don’t hesitate to start back from track one and repeat.
‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’ is the embodiment of true musicianship. It is the amalgamation of musical technicality and raw emotion. I dare anyone to listen to this and not feel something! It encompasses all the elements that define the Periphery sound, but still manages to break new ground. It is by far the most impressive vocal performance we’ve heard from Spencer, and most well rounded album Periphery have ever released. I look forward to seeing how it translates on the live stage.
Reviewed by: Sammy SF (more from Sammy)
Date: 22 July 2016
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