Periphery II: This Time It's Personal

1. Muramasa
2. Have a Blast
3. Facepalm Mute
4. Ji
5. Scarlet
6. Luck as a Constant
7. Ragnarok
8. The Gods Must Be Crazy!
9. Make Total Destroy
10. Erised
11. Epoch
12. Froggin' Bullfish
13. Mile Zero
14. Masamune  

Spencer Sotelo (Lead vocals)
Misha "Bulb" Mansoor (Guitar & programming)
Mark Holcomb (Guitar)
Matt Halpern (Drums & percussion)
Jake Bowen (Guitar, synths & programming)
Adam "Nolly" Getgood (Bass & guitar)

Periphery (2010)
Icarus Lives (2011)

Alice McIlrath (violin)
Lezlie Smith (cello)
Guthrie Govan (Guitar solo on 2)
John Petrucci (Guitar solo on 10)
Wes Hauch (Guitar solo on 12)

Produced by Periphery, Misha "Bulb" Mansoor & Adam "Nolly" Getgood
Engineered & mixed by Taylor Larson at Oceanic Recording
Additional Engineering by Will Donnelly
Strings on "Have a Blast" arranged and produced by Randy Slaugh
Engineered by Ken Dudley at Cottonwood Studios

Released 3/7-2012
Reviewed 23/8-2012

sumerian records
century media

I must say that 2012 has been one of the worst years in my life. And I say that despite there's still plenty of things that can go wrong but seeing how it's a long time left on the year it wouldn't surprice me the least if also that went wrong. I can't really remember when I was this sad and it feels like more than I can handle has went wrong for me this year, and as I've felt the darkness spread more and more in to me, Century Media handed me a real treat that shone up my life at least a little bit.

The gift was the second full length album by the American band Periphery, a band that presented them selves as late as two years ago with their self titled debut. Last year they released an nine track EP (consisting of six songs and three alternative remixes to the title track Icarus) but none of the songs from the EP has been included on this 14 track follow up that is delivered with a typical post-hardcore sound, reinforced by a handful of screamo, a pile of nu-metal and a bucket of progressive metal. Along with the sextet on this album we also find John Petrucci, Wes Hauch and Guthrie Govan, whom all adds a solo each to the album, and together I think they've made an album more unpredictable than the future television series the Scary Door and the whole thing feels like 69 minutes of mostly really, really good music!

Hey, wait a minute here! Stop everything! 69 minutes, you say? And you don't add something sarcastic as you say it? I'd say the adversity has made a bigger impact on this reviewer than what it first seemed like. How come 69 minutes isn't too long on this album, as it normally always is when you review an album? Well, I'll tell you: I think it is! And I think the eagle eyed reader also noticed how I added the word "mostly" to the last sentence. I always think 69 minutes is too long, unless there's a really good reason for it being that long - or cleverly putted together somehow. The thing is that if you're the kind of person who likes to exaggerate you'd probably say that this album is a little bit like two albums with the first half being notably softer than the second. This could forgive the length a little bit, since we first get a form of melodic, progressive music with beautiful elements varied with some hardcore/screamo extremes and then almost the complete opposite - an extreme metal album with angry screams, shouts and heavy guitars and then some melodic music added to it. But the total playing time dilemma has it's real foundation in the fact that they have 14 songs where none of them really feels like songs you remove from an album. Sure, there are songs weaker than others, but none so bad you hurry to remove any of them but as you almost need to get the total time a little bit I'd probably go for removing the last song as it's an easy solution and that song isn't a top track anyway. But after that I'd say it's impossible to take anything else out.

The music is just so damn good! they vary the music perfectly and you can never tell where you're taken within the songs. On the first half of the album we even get some violin and cello, which comes completely out of the blue and the entire album is filled with these beautiful instrumental appearances and beautiful melodies every now and then. I'm really impressed by the rhythm section for how nicely they manage to go from the really hardcore stuff in to something so beautiful in an instant - and how they then can go back just as fast. The same goes for the vocals - they go from a sort of modern american punk rock way of singing in to heavy screaming and shouts in more or less every song a couple of times every now and then. The song that impresses me the most is probably the middle marker, Ragnarok, which I think has the best of the two worlds - the niceley played beautiful stuff and the extreme and shouty as well.

This is a quite remarkable album that sometimes reminds me of the insane extreme things that Iwrestledabearonce does, like the guitars that feels like a somewhat more held back version of how Iwrestledabearonce playes them (meaning that they are hard enough to crush a diamond and while it sounds like they use hammers to play the strings they use the other hand to tear the whole guitars to pieces). But then again they have these calmer stuff going on as well with long instrumental passages of melodic, harmonic music so well played it can make your eyes water. The intuitive feeling in how and when they present the keys is about 90% of the difference to why this album isn't an average album right in the middle of the scale because the precision in when they change tempo and goes in to soft mode and back to the heavier stuff not only makes my eyes water, but also my mouth water. I'm heavilly impressed!

In the few years they've been around, Periphery has still managed to go through a full football team of members (or soccer team if you're American) and that includes substitutes as well, but this hasn't stopped Misha Mansoor and his team to create something that feels so organized and controlled despite it's chaotic appearance. You're thrown around more frantic than if you'd been stuck in a washing machine but it's always that feeling of command in it, even when they psyche out at their most. I think it results in one of the most welcome apperances in my life this year and without a doubt a prime candidate for album of the year!



Label: Sumerian Records/Century Media
Three similar bands: Iwrestledabearonce/Meshuggah/Bulb
Rating: HHHHHHH (6/7)
Reviewer: Caj Källmalm

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