For full disclosure, I’m coming at this album from someone who gave their last album a 10/10 and declared it album of the year in 2012. I meant to go back and listen to it again before writing this to see how I feel about it now.
The album opens with clean vocals singing a melody and lyrics that will come back across the whole 80 minute ordeal. The song does well to introduce a tone and the theme. The second track already gets into some of the issues that recur with this album.
The style shifts dramatically to lots of chugging djent. I will grant them that when this happens at various points in the album, it is fairly short (a couple minutes max). I know there are people that are really into this type of thing, but I can’t fathom why a band that is so good at composing intricate, interesting music has to resort to it.
This second track and many after pick a single low bass note, then play it loud and rhythmically over and over and over (in some cases they change octaves, but that is still the same note). They try to make it more interesting with some Dillenger-esque technical, dissonant guitar work.
In some sense, this is what you do if you need filler, but this album is already 80 minutes long! If we cut this fat, we’re left with a perfectly respectable length album that is excellent.
The third track changes drastically again. It is the type of thing that made me love the first album. Stylistically, it might be considered hardcore or alternative. The song has a slow build to a nice climax with a jazzy guitar solo that doesn’t get too caught up in itself. The song works and gets the job done. It would make an excellent second track.
Overall, these are the pieces that make this double LP. Periphery showcase their excellent songwriting by bringing back themes, deconstructing them, and developing them in different styles across the whole album. When they are on, this album is truly brilliant.
Unfortunately, they are only on about 70% of the time. A painful part of the artistic process is the cutting block. But the ability to see parts of what you write as inessential and cutting them is vital to an excellent end product. The album doesn’t suffer from being too long (Mahler wrote 100 minute symphonies). It suffers from being unnecessarily long.
Overall, I want to love this, but I just can’t. I can’t dislike it too much either, because it has great moments. I’ll give it a 7/10. If you liked Periphery II, you’ll probably like this. If my negatives don’t sound bad to you, you might even love this. Here’s a sample: