Review Summary: Like most experiments of its ilk, the Clear EP is too hit-or-miss to be ultimately satisfying to even the most dedicated fans.
The idea behind this little trinket of seven songs was that each member of Periphery gets the opportunity to become the main creative director behind a song in order to, “explore all of the different writing styles in the band.” Bearing that quote in mind, how drastically different do the songs on Clear
end up being from previous Periphery material? Not unlike their studio albums in any way. Now, Periphery have always written their material as a group. Perhaps most of the input comes from lead guitarist Misha Mansoor, but the entirety of what this group produces doesn’t really have a head engineer, so to say. Their music also hasn’t exactly ever indicated an array of especially disparate influences being brought to the table by each member. This is a band who has capitalized on Meshuggah and Dream Theater likeness, and that’s about all that’s been strikingly apparent about them in the inspiration department.
In the course of its seven tracks, Clear
manages to condense everything Periphery is mainly about from the pianos, to the ambient-lacing, painfully average djent chords, and Spencer Sotelo going down a more alternative rock route with his vocals. That’s a summary of every song, much like how Clear
is a concise summary of Periphery themselves. No daring or adventurous risks with the band’s sound are taken here, nor are attempts at tackling other sounds. Mansoor’s song “Zero” sounds like he put forth no effort into making his playing style appear fresh or interesting, to an extent where it could be passed off as an instrumental demo from his solo work before Periphery.
Another positive that comes out of shared input from each band member is the regulation of ideas, so that influence doesn’t end up veering off into mimicking, and that’s where Clear
fails mostly. The song "Extraneous" captained by bassist "Nolly" imitates Meshuggah’s “Shed” far too much for its own good, and the greatest accomplishment provided by “Feed the Ground” is the devolving of djent as a sub-genre even more so by establishing a firm standing as a Slipknot-aspiring nu metal anthem.
This actually did have potential to be unique seeing as how guitarist Jake Bowen creates downtempo music for his solo material, but nothing along those lines making it on here is evidenced by his track “The Summer Jam” being the safest and most predictable song out of them all. An EP where every track sounds like it’s from a completely different band would have suffered from inconsistency and been ridiculous to expect, but there’s still no excuse as to why Periphery didn’t seize an opportunity like this to tone down the oversaturated and numbing usage of djent chords even just a little bit. In the end, what’s most clear about the Clear
EP is that each member of Periphery thinks they have more special and exciting things to show for themselves than they actually do.