Periphery
Juggernaut: Alpha


4.0
excellent

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
January 24th, 2015 | 221 replies


Release Date: 01/27/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A melodic refocus results in Periphery's best album to date.

Let me be blunt: I like Juggernaut: Alpha. I like it for probably many of the reasons fans of the group's first forays seem to dislike it: for emphasizing musical structure and painting with a wider swath of colors than the monochromatic schemes we were fed on their eponymous debut.

While Periphery (the one that wasn't personal) focused on experimenting with rhythm, it mostly neglected to shade that rhythm with any particular color. Don't get me wrong - forgoing melody to achieve dissonance or pounding rawness can be an effective technique, but we invented color television for a reason, and Periphery never quite had the cinematic effect of a Schindler's List. Periphery 2, on the other hand, shifted gears to emphasize melody, albeit in a "look at us, we're shifting gears to emphasize melody!" way typical of a band experiencing growing pains while reinventing themselves. Spencer Sotelo also learned to sing like Rody Walker at this point, which at least sounded better than his performance on their debut.

But I digress, Alpha is a good album. Not a "good by comparison" album or a "good for this band" album, but a damn good album, up and down, left and right. Maybe with a pinch of a "good to see a band with a lot of talent finally put out something really great" mixed in there for effect. Because Periphery are that band and this is that album.

Alpha builds its success from two angles: the heavy djent rhythms Periphery are known for (although often altered to be in a slightly more regular meter) and an elaboration on the flash of melody that we saw on Periphery 2. Vocal melodies and guitar solos alike create less dissonance than they did on previous outings, allowing tracks to gel into a package that's more attractive and accessible. And yes, the two really do go hand-in-hand for Periphery, as dialing back the rhythmic technicality on Alpha clearly makes space for a melodic air that the band have sorely needed in the past. That said, you'll still hear moments of computer glitch soloing ("22 Faces" and "Rainbow Gravity") and "MK Ultra" definitely steers full-boar towards the group's original sound (for better or worse).

But even the retread balls-to-the-wall rhythmic madness of a track like that feels polished on Alpha - partially the product of Spencer seemingly, finally coming into his own as a vocalist with an appropriate range dialed into every track on the album; and partially the product of a band putting a few fundamentals back into a sound that was sorely missing them. Some will bemoan that this makes things more "pop-oriented" or "less innovative," but there's simply no denying that the techniques employed are successful. Truthfully, the turnabout sees a lot of clever hooks and tropes employed by successful 21st century progressive rock, which is probably why it's being seen in such a "pop" regard. But when it works, why argue with results?

Alpha is easily the band's most accessible album to date... But that should, by no means, be a black mark against a band that have finally put all of their musical intelligence to exceptional use. Having a chorus that's fun and easy to sing along ("Heavy Heart," "The Scourge," "Alpha") to doesn't lower the musical worth of a product that can leave you reeling with a low, polyrhythmic punch just a track later. Nor does melodic soloing, or rhythms which know their place reinforcing song structure and venturing into experimental territory without detracting from a song's focus.

If anything, Alpha proves that Periphery have learned and matured as musicians and as a band. Alpha is less an exercise in flaunting technicality (as the previous two albums tended toward) and more a concerted team effort with a musical goal in mind. To be concise, it's less instrumentally selfish, more melody-focused, and interesting without being alienating. That, to me, makes a damn good album, whether you're Periphery or any other band. If you're a fan of progressive metal, whether you've listened to Periphery before (actually, especially if you've listened to Periphery before) or if this is your first experience with the band, you'll be pleasantly surprised with this one.



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user ratings (744)
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Moderator
January 24th 2015


2686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"dei or"



Stream: http://loudwire.com/periphery-juggernaut-alpha-exclusive-album-stream/



Like this waaaaaaaaay more than I expected to. Review is probably a little rant-y since I'm knocking off some rust right now.

Tunaboy45
January 24th 2015


15151 Comments


One day this band will click with me

Digging: Lorde - Melodrama

AtomicWaste
Moderator
January 24th 2015


2686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Their previous albums do very little for me, but this one's a keeper.

Nocturnalize
January 24th 2015


2463 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is actually my least favorite periphery album I prefer omega much much more. Still dig it cuz 3.5

ShadowRemains
January 24th 2015


24638 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

shit

RogueNine
January 24th 2015


3202 Comments


Your second paragraph is so awesome. And I think it would be even better if (the personal one) was removed, cause you established that the first record was not it.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
January 24th 2015


18624 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Nice review man. I obviously think otherwise but it was a great read.

RivalSkoomaDealer
January 24th 2015


1600 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Agree to disagree but this is an excellent write up.

Digging: Algiers - The Underside of Power

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 24th 2015


23982 Comments


Wait, this band isn't complete shit lol butts?

Digging: Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile To The Surface

Toondude10
January 24th 2015


11041 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

You'd hate this Sowing.



Album is passable at best, but good review otherwise.

AtomicWaste
Moderator
January 24th 2015


2686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@Rogue - Thank you! Upon further review, I agree and the paragraph has been altered.



@Mongi - Are you into the previous two albums? Just curious what about this doesn't jive with you.



@Skooma - Thanks! I think we disagree mostly because you liked the first two albums where I didn't, so I get it. Ain't no thang.



@Sowing - I was surprised at how much I like this since that pretty much sums up my feelings on the past two albums (there's some salvageable to each, but ehhh)

Toondude10
January 24th 2015


11041 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Omega is much better, you gonna review that?

AtomicWaste
Moderator
January 24th 2015


2686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I disagree (it's still pretty good, though), but it's in the plans. So is my list of my top albums/songs of

2014, but we'll see which gets done first. Life dun been busy.



Edit: To clarify, I think which is better comes down to if you prefer rhythm or melody. Melody is what does

it for me, but they still handle melody pretty well on Omega (but obviously rhythm is a little more at the

forefront).

toomuchtestosterone
January 24th 2015


87 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I have not ever heard of Djent. What is it?

botb
January 24th 2015


10980 Comments


Band used to be so listenable but not anymore

paradox1216
Emeritus
January 25th 2015


730 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I don't get how people can review both of these albums separately. I guess Alpha is easy enough to consider on its own but Omega flows like a back half and not like it's own thing. which makes sense and is fine



great review though. this is my favorite band but objectively I agree with both of your assessments. Periphery I had no pop and Periphery II was definitely the band finding itself

swagb0b
January 25th 2015


233 Comments


is this rap

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
January 25th 2015


18624 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

@atomic first of all, the clean vocals are reeeeeally ugly so that's already a huge flaw to me, but this also sacrifices any depth and substance for technicality which sucks. It's also really cheesy considering how poppy it is. Sorry man just don't like it haha and I've only heard this one.

Relinquished
January 25th 2015


36025 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

"dei or"



don't do that again

carouse
January 25th 2015


344 Comments


Jesus Christ...



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