Review Summary: Misha Mansoor's mind broken down into the form of an album.
And what an album.
If you knew about Misha Mansoor (aka Bulb, as he goes on the Net) and his SoundCloud, you'd know he's quite good at playing instruments. So what does he decide to do?
Form a band.
Periphery is one of those bands people love or hate. Whether it be their vocalist, their guitar tones, or the way their music plays out, Periphery seems to get either a flow of hate towards them, or dedicated fans, which all just want MORE of them.
So on to the actual album.
Periphery on their debut (as listed on the CD) were:
- Spencer Sotelo: lead vocals
- Misha Mansoor: guitar, programming
- Jake Bowen - guitar, programming
- Alex Bois - guitar, backing vocals
- Tom Murphy - bass, backing vocals
- Matt Halpern - drums
Here's the tracks.
Starting off with a quiet intro, but then bursting into the signature "duh dun dun duh" guitar riffs, and then entering Sotelo with his harsh vocals, Insomnia is a good starting track for the album, and sets what's to come later. There are some well done licks from the band's three guitarists, and about halfway through, Spencer delivers some nice melodies. Not the best song on the album, but it's a good starting point. 3/5.
2. The Walk
A heavy-exclusive track, The Walk shows Misha, Jake, and especially Matt at some of their highest potentials on the album. Also, the basslines on this song are very catchy. Spencer's vocals here are all harsh; no singing here at all. It's a perfect song for moshing at a concert, and the drums are fast and relentless. 4/5.
3. Letter Experiment
Besides the final track, Letter Experiment is one of the longest on the album. There are lots of various sections to this song. The "trio of stringsmen" Misha, Alex, and Jake play some great riffs in the middle and ending sections of the song, and the melodic bit in the middle gives some of Sotelo's best vocals on the album. Musically, this is an amazing song, just not close enough to being perfect. 4/5.
4. Jetpacks Was Yes!
A really stupid name for a song, but WHATEVER. An almost all-melodic song, Jetpacks could easily become radio friendly without the harsh vocals at the end. However, this is what brings it down. It's too friendly. The guitars here aren't too special, mostly basic hooks, especially at the chorus, and Sotelo's singing here are...lacking. Although it is a good song, it stands out too much on the album. I can't really say too much about it, though, the solo at the end is very catchy. 2.5/5.
A better way to let off of radio-hit Jetpacks, Light is a nice little ditty. The guitars are very, um, how can I put this, 'djenty' here. The drums are very well perfomed as well; Matt Halpern hits it great here. Spencer is lacking a bit here too, but it doesn't sound too out-of-place. Only real downside is the unnecessary electronica piece at the end, which seems to be a recurring theme in Periphery's music; it'd be better off on its own. 3.5/5.
6. All New Materials
Now this is catchy. A song that can get stuck in your head, "All New Materials" is a mostly melodic song sort of in the vein of post-Appeal Rise Against. Most of it is quite similar, however that's the problem here. It isn't memorable enough. I can't put much more on this song, since it is all very similar in tone and setting. 3/5.
A tune that almost sounds like pre-DOADD SikTh, the hooks in this song are, at best, slightly crazy. Matt's impractical and unconventional style of drumming is technical and arguably, fast. Asides from that however, the redundancy of the "dun dun dun da DJENT" in this one are a bit obvious. Not a bad song, but not in the very least memorable. I can't see much else in this one, but the riffs near the choruses are very captivating. 3/5.
8. Icarus Lives!
Ho ho ho, here comes the song that pretty much EVERYONE knows of when it comes to Periphery. The introduction, or that significant 'bwee dup a durr durr dup a dup' is something every fan of this band knows. And guess what: it's catchy. The chorus, the ending breakdown and pretty much everything else show why people like this band. It's fun, catchy, and not in the least boring. Plus, on the album version, Ragtime Dandies is squeezed in at the end, and it's funny as hell. 4/5.
9. Totla Mad
The guitar work is improved, drums are polyrhythmic to the max, and the vocals in the chorus are amazing. What can I say, this grew on me, and I'm sure in time it will for you (the reader) as well. Although not as memorable as single "Icarus Lives!" or all-melodic "Jetpacks Was Yes!", Totla Mad is a nice song to follow Icarus. 3.5/5.
10. Ow My Feelings
Another stupidly titled song, Ow My Feelings shows the redundancy of this 70-minute album. It is very boring at best, and the guitar screams Catch Thirtythree. Although the drumming here is a tad more polished than others and Spencer's vocals in the chorus (if you can even call it a chorus) are definitely improved here, this song pretty much says "ugh" about the album. Misha's melodic hooks are alright, but not too memorable when compared to Icarus or All New Materials. 3/5.
An insanely fast and technical song, even from the intro Zyglrox proves itself as a song. One of my personal favorites, Zyglrox is a song that features engaging drum patterns from Halpern, riffs from Hell provided by Misha and the boys, and harshness from Spencer. One particular downside is the ending cleans from Sotelo which, let's be honest, don't have enough purpose in this song. However, the end songwriting is pretty much a predecessor to the best part to come and a slight breather so the technicality can wane off a bit. 4/5.
Without a doubt, this song is an endeavor that eliminates the flatness of Ow My Feelings or Buttersnips, and blows any previous tracks out of the water. The incredibly long closer to Periphery's debut (over fifteen minutes long), Racecar represents an amazing progression for the band and can only be compared to epics such as Dream Theater's 'Octavarium'. The guests in this song, Jeff Loomis (Nevermore) and Elliot Coleman (ex-TesseracT) do a good job in changing the song into more than expected. The guitars are relentless in Racecar; their polyrhythmic charm and melodic riffs are a turning point for the album. And the drums? Holy crap, the drums. The craft involved with the percussion in this song are fast and very well performed. Now onto Spencer Sotelo, but what can I say to describe him here? One word: wow. Just...wow. He does an amazing job in this song and it pays off right at the end, especially with the heartfelt and beautifully melodic end verse "I see light in your eyes!" and the Elliot Coleman guest-spot verse. In the final minutes of the song, the guitar melodies (approximately 11:52 to around 13:58 are just...well, beautiful. Captivating and memorable, these final sections are just amazing, and make this song the best on the album. 5/5.
So basically, even after Misha creating an endless amount of unnecessary hype and following-up to the album, it definitely proves itself as one of the best progressive metal albums I've heard in a few years (since Meshuggah's 'ObZen' and After The Burial's 'Rareform'). Although the Maryland sextet needs improvement in some places, it's a reasonably entertaining debut and a good mark to start with.
Very well done, Periphery.
Madz's Overall Rating: B-