Review Summary: A little too long and underwhelming, but there are some great ideas at work here.
I guess I’ll admit that the hype for Periphery’s self-titled debut gave me a plethora of false expectations for what I would be getting upon first listening to this album. Being hyped up as far back as 2006, the conception and build up of Periphery through mastermind Misha Mansoor has sparked comparisons to current mathcore/metalcore leaders The Dillinger Escape Plan
, the band seemingly having lofty goals of even succeeding and bettering these bands as well as carving their own unique niche to call their own – a place where Meshuggah
, and The Dillinger Escape Plan
-conglomerate sword wielders can fight to the death. As of now it’s a pretty lonely coliseum, but that will change in time, surely. If anything, Periphery should at least be commended for offering a slight deviation of sounds that hovers fairly close to the realm of the innovative and unique.
Periphery play a hand that utilizes lead singer Spencer Sotelo’s oscillation of clean-to-harsh vocal styles in very much the same way as the prior aforementioned mathcore/metalcore bands have in the past. The real difference between the Maryland sextet’s music and that of their contemporaries, however, comes into play with an electronic dynamic that’s utilized spottily through the album’s seventy-five minute length, and, also, Meshuggah
-like stop-start gun riffs that occupy a large portion of the instrumental sound happenings as well. Periphery are at their best when they are seemingly flowing from one style to the next – whether it be Sotelo’s competent, if airy harsh delivery transitioning into his nasally cleans, or three axe-men Misha Mansoor, Alex Bois, and Jake Bowen choking the chugs or winding the high-fret, speedy turns that could very well have Tim Millar and Luke Hoskin, of Protest The Hero
fame, taking notes along the way.
’s length, and each track length in general, is the big black spot that keeps everything on here from looking really, really pretty. Each track would be tremendously better off with a good minute sliced off their playing times – in some places even one and a half minutes, e.g. sole-screamer, chug-fest “The Walk” and exclusively clean, melodic, and boring “Jetpacks Say Yes”. It’s the numbers that hold our attention with interesting, memorable vocal melodies and a fair balance of chug-to-technical guitar and drumming material that warrant a couple of extra minutes past the three minute mark – ala “Insomnia” and “All New Materials”. “RaceCar” is the one place where a large length – we’re talking over fifteen minutes here – feels right and argues its inclusion by remaining concisely structured, while still unpredictable, and just generally interesting all the way through.
Periphery’s enduring quality is found in how they are able to take their influences and make a fresh-feeling, if not perfected just yet, sound of their own. This alone is enough to validate some
of the hype that’s been echoing in various online forums for years. But as of now, however, the band are just not on the level that they’re supposedly rumored to be. Their self-titled is filled with often-times needless track extensions, boring three-minute chug-fests, and the usage of a competent yet unremarkable lead singer. The technical parts from the aforementioned trio of guitar wizards are skillful and certainly pleasing to the ear; however, the emphasis here is clearly placed on the Meshuggah
-like chugging. Had Periphery balanced these two styles on this album more equally, their self-titled could have been raised to a whole other level. As it stands, Periphery
is good, promising for their future, yet not really worth the mounds of hyperbolic hype it has been receiving for the past five or so years.