Periphery – Periphery

Now, I’ve been listening to a majority of these songs for almost five years. Five years, and this album still hit me like a bolt from the blue. The lads in Periphery are undoubtedly the patron saints of e-promotion, poster-men for a horde of hard-to-sell-and-sign bands that, while making paradigm shifting tunes, embraced the internets as a prime means to get press. Is it so surprising  that those web-savvy metal kids would rather shell out money for the same guys they post on message boards with rather than their perceived  corporate shmucks? I remain ambivalent – I’m a proud capitalist. Periphery eventually signed with Sumerian Records last year, the wtfness of it all really doing nothing to dissuade from the chronic case of years long blue balls for a full length shared by all those proudly in the know. Still, even though they are on the same label that is currently promoting Veil Of Maya’s “Collect The Colors” campaign (yeah), this effort is still 100% creative-control ensured. Hell, I just think of them as another Distort band (a Canadian label that’s had a reputable track record and knack for picking up on exciting talent for the past seven years).  Five years… We’ve heard the demos, the new mixes, the new vocalists – if anything, it was a rare chance for fans to be fully involved in the shaping of a band’s finished album and burgeoning career, regardless of the monstrous wait. You would think that when the album hit, it would amount to not much more than a nifty artifice of the band’s efforts finally complete… “They finished it… aw.” Ha!

You would think that, because I sure as hell did. In fact, like that bolt from the goddamn blue, this album slid the paradigm off its motherfucking track. Like 1977 audiences felt with the Rebel Cruiser escaping the ever growing Star Destroyer belly in Star Wars, “Insomnia” grew from ambience into a massive groove that slowly raised my eyebrows in an attempt to support the “holyshitholyshitholyshitholyshit” inner monologue that was amassing like a schizophrenic mob. It sounded twenty-eight times more massive and real and ohmyGoditwasfinallyrealandhereandinmyearsanditruled – it fucking ruled. This album is an event to say the least, as big as Star Wars, and will be an undisputed classic of its age. It is a musical special effects dreamscape that brims with as much unrestrained emotive force as it does balls- out technical barbarism. Just compare the coda at the end of “All New Materials” with the beatdown reprise in “Letter Experiment” (the masculine-as-fuck “whoaaa” chanting) for the clearest dichotomy.  It deserves a red carpet, a lion tamer with a megaphone introducing it, and its own half time show – it’s an event, and one for the entire generation.

Yes, such guilty hyperbole is unbecoming, but it really is true. After 2007, we had a lot of breakups in the extreme music community (SiKth, The Number Twelve Looks Like You), and most of them from monumentally talented acts that never really were able to grasp the greatness that was available to them. And while Periphery is by no means a new band, we at Hearwax often enjoy prophesising about the coming era of new legendary albums and artists – the ones that will reshape the landscape of extreme music for the next ten years in the way Calculating Infinity and Petitioning The Empty Sky did previous. Output from last year like Fragmentary Evidence, Spectrum, and These Are Lights have certainly been legendary releases in their own right, but Periphery is the main event. Periphery is the album that will be referred to wantonly by critics as one of the first and best iterations of extreme music for the decade to come like so many holy releases we cling to from decades gone and been – bet on it.

Why? It’s an epic, in length and scope. Every song on the album is clamouring for the spotlight (a strength I rather enjoyed on Converge’s latest album), each offering a different signature and self contained profile. Sometimes it is the sombre dream pop that introduces and waves goodbye to active tracks like “Light” and “Icarus Lives!”, or just the imaginative breadth of  the technical beehive that is “Buttersnips”. Despite the various tempos, every song is haemorrhaging layers and contrapuntal interplay, establishing Periphery as a serious musician’s band (mastermind Bulb uploads accurate covers of Allan Holdsworth solos on YouTube, not to mention writing a half of Animals As Leader’s debut… Enough said) with a knack for creating an infectious pop-core sensibility. And the tears, oh the tears; “Ow My Feelings” winds up with a heartbreak, pulling our mopey asses along for the bittersweet ride. “Jetpacks Was Yes!” is the vocalist’s spotlight, working with the triadic guitar dynamics rather than on top of it – the result is mesmerizing. Add to this the various undistorted breaks  in the polymetallic djent madness  and you have what is the most emotive album in this style since Of Malice And The Magnum Heart dropped.

Periphery are the most competent musicians signed by Sumerian yet, a feat that is worthy of praise; regardless of the label’s main roster incorporating some of the more derivative dribble in metal, Sumerian’s bands remain a solid batch of young musicians… Periphery on the other hand rival Martyr in terms of their execution. Matt Halpern, frankly, has produced my perfect drum performance; a steady groove that is able to work a polymetric discipline, and a key feature that super star original drummer Travis Orbin lacked – ghost notes. These techniques  (with eccentric hi hat and ride patterns) literally enforce this albums movement with a power yet untapped by any other band in their genre.  Tom Murphy can play – we can hear him follow along with the riffs as well as James Leach does – but I wonder about the lack of bass expression…  Of course,  distorted bass always is crucial for sating those high gain throwdowns, but for an album bursting with melodic breaks, it would be interesting to hear some subtle bass undulations like Misery Signals uses so well. This is hardly a criticism, as any more activity on the bass could yield a feeling of “too many cooks in the kitchen” within the interplay of the three guitar parts.

The band themselves are aware of their style and placement in the metal canon by composing a legitimately hilarious spoken word finale for “Icarus Lives!”. It explains their unique identity and terminology for those not in the know… But that is what Periphery is; they are not a niche band, even if they existed as one for years previous. This album is now available for all, and everyone should be on the ground floor when the phenomenon hits. You know you are listening to your new favourite band when you hear the ragtime dandy: “Periphery – Love That Shit!” followed immediately by the right–left slam of “Totla Mad”. It makes you smile like a dork. Love that shit.

(9.7/10)



14 Comments

  1. hearwax wrote:

    Periphery – Periphery http://bit.ly/aBdEe0
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. Mark wrote:

    “You know you are listening to your new favourite band when you hear the ragtime dandy: “Periphery – Love That Shit!” followed immediately by the right–left slam of “Totla Mad”. It makes you smile like a dork. Love that shit.”

    Awesome.

  3. Mark wrote:

    “You know you are listening to your new favourite band when you hear the ragtime dandy: “Periphery – Love That Shit!” followed immediately by the right–left slam of “Totla Mad”. It makes you smile like a dork. Love that shit.”

    Awesome.

  4. David wrote:

    I agree with 99% of this interview, except the part about Halpern and Orbin. In my humble opinion, Orbin is a far better drummer and the statement about ghost notes is ridiculous – Also, keep in mind, Travis and Misha wrote most, if not all, of the drum parts. This video pretty much shows how monstrous Orbin is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjibYYhIsAk&feature=related

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Halpern. I think he lends a new feel to the band, while holding onto the technicality, he adds a new level of brutality which I love. But do I like Orbin’s drumming more? Yes.

    Also, to my knowledge, all the drums on the album were samples? Aaah well, whatever. Periphery fucking rule. Love that shit.

  5. David wrote:

    I agree with 99% of this interview, except the part about Halpern and Orbin. In my humble opinion, Orbin is a far better drummer and the statement about ghost notes is ridiculous – Also, keep in mind, Travis and Misha wrote most, if not all, of the drum parts. This video pretty much shows how monstrous Orbin is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjibYYhIsAk&feature=related

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Halpern. I think he lends a new feel to the band, while holding onto the technicality, he adds a new level of brutality which I love. But do I like Orbin’s drumming more? Yes.

    Also, to my knowledge, all the drums on the album were samples? Aaah well, whatever. Periphery fucking rule. Love that shit.

  6. Logan Broger wrote:

    The drums on the album were recorded via Matt playing a v-kit and then putting the drums through drumkit from hell.

  7. Mark Bushnoe wrote:

    Don’t get me wrong, I pre-ordered this album, and it’s definitely incredible, but I think that you’d have to overlook quite a bit to give it a 9.7. I don’t want to make you feel self-conscious about writing at all, cause your reviews are usually spot on, but what of the fucking ludicrous use of autotune and the downside of the new vocalist? I don’t hate on him nearly as much as some do, but there are a couple parts on this album where even I cringe a little bit.

    Also, there are some solo sections this album could do without, and there are some places where it’s really overproduced. That said, I would agree that its somewhere in the late 8’s, early 9’s range, and some parts on this album really get me going. Typing all of this while wearing the shirt I got with my package. The bit on “love that shit” made me smile like a dork, because that part makes me smile like a dork.

  8. Mark Bushnoe wrote:

    Don’t get me wrong, I pre-ordered this album, and it’s definitely incredible, but I think that you’d have to overlook quite a bit to give it a 9.7. I don’t want to make you feel self-conscious about writing at all, cause your reviews are usually spot on, but what of the fucking ludicrous use of autotune and the downside of the new vocalist? I don’t hate on him nearly as much as some do, but there are a couple parts on this album where even I cringe a little bit.

    Also, there are some solo sections this album could do without, and there are some places where it’s really overproduced. That said, I would agree that its somewhere in the late 8’s, early 9’s range, and some parts on this album really get me going. Typing all of this while wearing the shirt I got with my package. The bit on “love that shit” made me smile like a dork, because that part makes me smile like a dork.

  9. Logan Broger wrote:

    New vocalist is fantastic imo. His screams are raw and honest, and his clean singing is really strong. Pretty versatile. I don’t know what autotune you are speaking of. I am intrigued.

  10. Logan Broger wrote:

    New vocalist is fantastic imo. His screams are raw and honest, and his clean singing is really strong. Pretty versatile. I don’t know what autotune you are speaking of. I am intrigued.

  11. Mark wrote:

    The autotune is EVERYWHERE on the CD, it’s RIDDLED with it…However, it’s not used in the way alot of people think of autotune (t-pain etc) it’s used in the pitch correction sense. it doesen’t necessarily mean that he can’t sing, autotune just snaps him to a note perfectly rather than fluctuating around the right pitch which is what a natural voice does which makes it sound computerised, there are subtle ways of using autotune in a mix, but I’m pretty sure that Periphery used it in an intentionally non subtle way, as if not it’s PAINFULLY obvious it’s being used…Also Spencer struggles live from what I see on youtube. To be fair though, he didn’t write the vocals on the CD, and the vocals are f***ing HARD to get right, some of them are ‘actually’ humanly impossible, it’s more about the transition beween the notes rather than the actual notes themselves that make it hard to sing.

  12. Mark wrote:

    The autotune is EVERYWHERE on the CD, it’s RIDDLED with it…However, it’s not used in the way alot of people think of autotune (t-pain etc) it’s used in the pitch correction sense. it doesen’t necessarily mean that he can’t sing, autotune just snaps him to a note perfectly rather than fluctuating around the right pitch which is what a natural voice does which makes it sound computerised, there are subtle ways of using autotune in a mix, but I’m pretty sure that Periphery used it in an intentionally non subtle way, as if not it’s PAINFULLY obvious it’s being used…Also Spencer struggles live from what I see on youtube. To be fair though, he didn’t write the vocals on the CD, and the vocals are f***ing HARD to get right, some of them are ‘actually’ humanly impossible, it’s more about the transition beween the notes rather than the actual notes themselves that make it hard to sing.

  13. […] with Periphery and Journal, Orgone have made metal, and “extreme” music, important again.  And if […]

  14. Logan Broger wrote:

    The drums on the album were recorded via Matt playing a v-kit and then putting the drums through drumkit from hell.

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