The progressive unit break free from genre chains to unleash their most daring effort yet.
Three years from melting faces with Periphery III and PERIPHERY are now just days away from setting forth the fourth entry of their ever-evolving anthology album series with Periphery IV: Hail Stan. Following the fall-out with previous label Sumerian Records, the prog-metallers set out to put together a composition under their own rules and their own newly found label, 3DOT Recordings. With that said, PERIPHERY put up the middle finger to all expectations and gave rise to a record that offers something truly unique in the band's expansive 14-year existence.
While Periphery IV remains progressive at heart, the incorporation of various elements from across genres make this outing as accessible as they come, offering smooth landing to those attempting to board the rough flight that is heavy music. The industrial, jazz, orchestral, and even pop elements that are intertwined between their resounding progressive metal capabilities make this album that much more enjoyable, despite what elitists have to say about it. The effective use of strings and synth add layers of depth to an already diverse record that offers something for everybody to love no matter where you lie on the metal spectrum.
From the opening 17-minute demon that is Reptile to the heartfelt closer Satellites, the guys demonstrate that they just don't give a fuck. While users run amok in their comments section over the clear musical transition, the quintet set out to have fun and it shows. Periphery IV radiates bright light, marking a turning point in the D.C.-based ensemble's musical career.
Blood Eagle and CHVRCH BVRNER prove that Mansoor, Holcomb, and Bowen are THE axe-wielding trio to fuck with. The high octane fretwork on display here is as explosive as ever, capable of leveling any arena willing to allow it's speakers a shot. Solos are elegant and electric, as you can clearly hear on Blood Eagle. As fast paced as the opening tracks on Periphery IV are, the tempo shifts down the more you transition towards the end of the record.
While the opening tracks of Periphery IV satisfy those who came for brutality, the latter half really taps into one's emotions through instrumental and lyrical means, again demonstrating PERIPHERY's talent. Consider it a rollercoaster if you will, starting at the high point with sheer brutality and making your way down the dive drop in progressive fashion. Sotelo's voice soars on tracks like It's Only Smiles and Crush, really taking the heart to the forefront with a strong chorus. Both of these highlight the band's dynamic attributes, with It's Only Smiles containing the most grandiose section of a song I've heard this year. To be more specific, I'm referring to the explosive double bass drumming by Halpern that perfectly complements the angelic chimes of a choir brought down from the heavens to invoke a sign of relief. Sit down, absorb and indulge it through and you'll realize that the latter half of Periphery IV holds meditative capabilities.
It's a well known fact that PERIPHERY consists of masterful talent, but this album is more than just display of excellent musicianship. Periphery IV is the culmination of a band doing what they love to do under their own rules, restricted by no one but themselves. The cohesion amongst the group is stronger than ever before, seamlessly merging various external elements with clear cut precision all while embodying a truly emotional theme. Come into this record with an open mind because if you think you have the slightest idea about what to expect, you are sadly mistaken.
Overall score: 9.5/10
FFO: Between the Buried and Me, TesseracT, Protest The Hero, Animals As Leaders
Periphery VI: Hail Stan arrives on Friday, April 5th via 3DOT Recordings with preorders available here.