Periphery’s Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal released on July 3, 2012. The opening could almost be an opening to a Kanye West song, but transitions into a great wall of metal sound. I love that despite this band’s great technical proficiency the opening track stays at a nice laid back tempo. Bands often forget that slower songs can be more powerful than flying off at light speed.
This album’s genius is in its diversity. It ranges from heartrendingly beautiful melodies to the hardest of technical metal to laid back heavy sounds to electronica. Overall, this album is extremely dense. I’ve listened to it countless times and I’m still catching new things (which makes me worried about posting this review). There is the perfect blend of mixed meter, complicated polyrhythmic patterns, weird new tonalities, and just plain old great rocking out in a straightforward fashion.
That’s what makes this album have such a mature sound that keeps me returning to it. Sometimes bands get in a niche and play a whole technical album. Maybe it’s impressive, but it will be an uninteresting one-trick-horse after several listens. Before the rest of this review gets taken the wrong way, these guys can easily stand with Meshuggah or the Dillinger Escape Plan with their technical hardcore playing.
A case in point is that Ji starts out as heavy and technical as anything on the album, but somehow seamlessly turns into a beautiful ballad. I have a slight gripe about the exact chord progression chosen. It’s cool, but everyone learning composition goes through a phase of overusing it, so I always cringe a little when I hear it.
Probably my favorite track is Luck as a Constant. The opening riffs after the intro are amazing. It then goes into some face ripping thrashing which transitions to a more djenty sound (and I basically don’t like djent, but this is awesome). Eventually it comes around to a song that sounds like it could be written by Copeland. It drops down to nothing and builds up to the best climax of the album.
Somehow this album is complicated enough that it took me about 20 listens to catch how great this moment is. I can’t think of any metal band that understands how to build a song this perfectly (for a composer that knows how to do it see the last movement of Respighi’s The Pines of Rome). I’m not sure what more I can say about this album. It runs the genres and then runs them again. Erised could practically be a Something Corporate song (don’t hate me).
My other favorite is Froggin’ Bullfish which is probably their most creative song. It has pretty a pretty cool chord progression, and another great moment I missed the first several times through. They end it with this beautiful accoustic outro which works perfectly with the song.
I guess I’ll give an anecdote. While an undergrad, I once accidentally expressed to a fellow lover of the avant-garde how awesome I found this one modern piece. The response I got was, “You’re so biased by Western tonality.” I deserved it. I had been referring to this huge beautiful climax that happened among the chaos. Maybe I should be embarrassed again that I’m letting a band that can play with my emotions so well get so much credit.
These guys are as good at what they do as I’ve ever heard, but they are in certain paradigm. If you want an album that will demand your attention and cause you to be in awe thinking to yourself, “This is so f–ing awesome!” then this is the album to get. I might regret this later, but I give it a 10/10.
Here’s a sample: