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Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal [Album Review]

By
Posted on July 2, 2012 AT 02:13pm

Misha Mansoor and Co. have been the darlings of the metal scene for a while now and Periphery has been one of the many names mentioned when the subject of “Djent” has been brought up. With good reason, they’ve been putting out music that’s garnered the respect of music fans and musicians alike. With their 2010 self-titled release, we got to see the product of plenty of time-tested songs that had been shown in various versions over the course of a year or so. Around that time they had been through a bunch of vocalists before bringing on Spencer Sotello and while the album was a well done piece of work, it still felt like it had aged a bit.

Fast forward to 2012 and we’re greeted with Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal, and honestly, they’re right. From beginning to end the album has a sense of growth that the first album didn’t have.  Musically the album has a greater sense of adventure in its melodies and construction. It almost sounds as if it were inspired by some of the epic RPG games of the past. Which would make sense considering Misha has done a few Final Fantasy 7 covers in the past.  Interestingly enough 3 of the 14 songs on that album directly reference things from the Final Fantasy realm. I’ll leave that to DigitalNoob readers to point out which ones.

The musical growth makes itself apparent right from the start. In the first track, Muramasa, they build up from soft electronic production  and swing right into a haymaker of a groove that feels incredibly natural for the span of two minutes. It feels as if it were the opening credits to a gigantic action/adventure film.  The next track, Have a Blast, starts off with these amazingly “fantasy” sounding strings and synths before kicking the track into high gear. The song which features a solo from Guthrie Covan of The Aristocrats, hits you with a lot of the brutal Meshuggah influenced Djent, but does well to cut it up with head-nodding sections and an incredibly catchy chorus. No aspect of it feels forced or overworked either, making the listening experience feel like just that, an experience.

This experience carries fairly well throughout of the album as it felt like it was worth it to listen to it from front to back.   It was as if they took the best aspects of their first album and expanded upon them without trying to replicate themselves in an easy-bake fashion; meaning that there isn’t a “Racecar II” on this album. In a way this album is really good for inspiring mental imagery in the individual listener with its melodies. In an incredibly smart move, they even bring out a recurring theme that appears in the beginning, middle and end of the album that’s better heard than explained.  The album flows rather easily without coming off as boring, they don’t stick to one feel for too long and each song feels like a different experience. They throw in plenty of electronic interludes between some songs, but they do more to avoid monotony without coming off as irritating filler.

Production wise, it sounds perfected, which makes sense because they swear by Fractal Audio gear and that’s made their production incredibly consistent. Thanks to to the work of Misha Mansoor and “Nolly” Getgood, each instrument has a good spot in the mix without burying anything or fighting for constant dominance during a song.  Another plus is that the drums aren’t programmed, giving it a more natural feel overall. The band itself plays like a well oiled machine whether they’re playing completely progressive stuff or laying into a gigantic, beatdown of a groove. It’s a combination of tightness and tone that makes it well worth playing through an expensive sound system. Vocally, Spencer has improved considerably, compared to the first album. Particularly because the album was made with more of him involved, as opposed to him just joining the project. It sounds as if he’s had time to grow into the sound and his range compliments their style much better. His tone quality sounds much stronger than before in both his harsh and clean vocal styles. While he still doesn’t really have the lower/midrange ‘oomph’ of previous vocalists, it doesn’t seem to matter as what he brings to the table fits just fine.  If anything his range has a tendency to make songs MORE exciting, as it’s interesting to hear how high he’ll sing in a particular song. Guitar wise, they’re absolutely on point, showcasing a nice balance between technical virtuosity and actual song construction. The solos from Guthrie Covan, John Petrucci of Dream Theater and Wes Hauch of The Faceless lock in perfectly without disturbing their respective songs. While I felt myself listening for their solos, it never felt as if they stuck out or that they were “sewn into” a composition. You could have lied to me and told me that it was just Misha derping about on the solos and I would have believed you. Not to say that any of them emulated his styles, but it’s amazing thinking of the consideration taken to fit in beautifully with the songs.

Overall, this is a fantastic album that a lot of people will more than likely keep in their CD collections and iTunes playlists. It never loses its steam and sounds like a huge adventure that completely satisfies from front to back. While it is disappointing to hear that there will be no instrumental version released, it’s still an incredible album well worth the price of admission.

THE GOOD: Excellent songwriting, feels like a huge adventure to listen to. Top notch production and improved vocals.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD: No instrumental version, which isn’t a HUGE deal, but there’s an audience that would appreciate an instrumental release.

 

I am a photographer for Depth Mental Photography and a metal vocalist for Redgrave Syndicate. I'm on twitter (@ReaperX_) where I can be found hashtagging ridiculous things. For DigitalNoob, I write music columns and some things that pertain to gaming. I like rubber ducks, Heavy Metal, sriracha rooster sauce, youtube vlogs, pizza and sometimes I tumblr. How are you guys?


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