Periphery
Juggernaut: Omega


4.0
excellent

Review

by Andrew Gold CONTRIBUTOR (80 Reviews)
January 25th, 2015 | 84 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Juggernaut, Pt. 2: Return to roots

Juggernaut: Omega is the darker, heavier side of Periphery’s double concept album. As a singular release, it fares slightly better than its counterpart Alpha; mainly because Omega focuses more on Periphery’s signature progressive metal traits rather than exploring their poppier tendencies like Alpha did. It also brings back the intensity and dissonance that was largely absent from every Periphery release since their 2010 debut (or Icarus if you neglect the remixes). Alpha was the band’s way of polishing the alternative-driven direction they explored on Periphery II (‘Scarlet’, ‘Mile Zero’), while Omega sounds like the band taking aspects of what made the Peripheries so enjoyable – the crunchiness of ‘Insomnia’, the grandiose soft-hard dynamics of ‘Luck as a Constant’, the drawn out prog elements of ‘Racecar’ – and harnessed these strengths into six fully realized, unique tracks (seven including the reprise of ‘A Black Minute’) comprising a concise, 40-minute package.

That’s not to say Juggernaut: Omega isn’t without its catchy qualities. Singles ‘The Bad Thing’ and ‘Graveless’ are littered with memorable melodies, namely the former’s soaring verses and the latter’s infectious chorus. But in between these accessible breaks is where we hear Periphery’s rhythmic intensity turned up a few notches. ‘The Bad Thing’ takes notes from the nü metal playbook by dropping all hints of melody halfway through for a massive droning chug break, and ‘Graveless’ has a post-chorus riff that hearkens back to the majestic discordance of Periphery II highlight ‘Masamune’. The non-singles, however, are where the band really goes all out. After an almost fully sung calm-before-the-storm track ‘Priestess’, the band barrel through the heaviest three-track stretch of their career. It begins with the previously released ‘Graveless’ – after its closing breakdown and subsequent feedback, the band pulls the rug from underneath its listeners with ‘Hell Below’: an apocalyptic chug fest down-tuned to modest C♯ (an octave below the traditional tuning for that key). ‘Hell Below’ readily lives up to its sinister title, fit with haunting death growls, dissonant guitar jabs, and a vile downbeat groove that perfectly compliments the song’s hellish atmosphere. This continues until its off-kilter jazz-fusion outro, which quotes ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ for good measure and leads seamlessly into the piano intro of the eponymous track.

‘Omega’ is arguably Periphery’s best song to date, if only from a songwriting standpoint. The 12-minute epic sees the band fire on all cylinders – dense breakdowns, gripping blast beats, djentified Opeth riffs, all woven together seamlessly with each idea flowing into the next without a hitch. The opening piano motif is revisited on the guitars in various ways, providing a sense of continuity throughout the track’s intimidating runtime. But the song never stays in a comfort zone for long. In fact, ‘Omega’ is structurally akin to what Between the Buried and Me did on The Great Misdirect’s longer songs. It’s loosely broken up into three movements – the first is the abrasive, riff barrage portion, the second features an Incubus esque chorus and experimental fusion breaks, and the last being the build up to the song’s climax (which quotes its counterpart ‘Alpha’ for the final chorus) and subsequent monolithic closing breakdown, which itself is a previous riff slowed down as if to convey the track coming full circle. It all comes together gloriously. ‘Omega’ could have been a perfectly sufficient album closer, but Periphery decided to give listeners a cool-down through ‘Stranger Things’, which toys with the soft-hard dynamic by exploring the extremes of both sides. The soft parts are the most subtle and tranquil moments of the project, with Spencer even gracing us with his falsetto for a few seconds, while the heavy sections set the perfect foundation for Spencer to show off his impressively developed screaming range.

Instrumentally, Juggernaut draws influence from a wide array of artists. Meshuggah is the obvious answer, but there are far more interesting sounds at work here. ‘The Scourge’ has a Devin Townsend esque vibe when Spencer wails “I will survive” near the end, and his vicious delivery over the methodical riffage in ‘Hell Below’ pays homage to Strapping Young Lad’s critically acclaimed City and Alien. Vocally, Spencer Sotelo is still comparable to Protest the Hero’s Rody Walker due to his high range and knack for creating infectious, operatic melodies. But many vocal lines here are also reminiscent of Incubus’ Brandon Boyd, which curiously doesn’t sound out of place in the slightest; rather, it provides a comforting alternative tone in between the bursts of technical insanity.

Unfortunately, some issues on Juggernaut are impossible to ignore. While the band’s songwriting has been fine-tuned greatly over the years, it’s gotten to the point where sections can become predictable as the tracks progress. Their scatterbrained songwriting approach has been essentially sanded down into basic pop song structures. The band’s brilliance shines the most when they are not confined by these crutches and simply let their ideas flow freely (i.e. ‘Omega’). On another note, vocalist Spencer Sotelo is nearly omnipresent on Juggernaut. This shouldn’t surprise anyone – it’s been advertised as a vocally driven concept album since its inception, but that also means if you don’t like his vocals, you likely won’t be able to sit through the album(s) without cringing. Spencer also has a habit of over enunciating his lyrics. It’s a fine technique for screaming, an encouraged one actually, but when he’s singing clean it’s nearly impossible to overlook. It’s mostly evident on tracks like ‘Priestess’ that are dominated almost entirely by Spencer’s crooning over clean guitars; rather than invoking emotion, the over-the-top vocals may induce annoyance more than anything else. Again, it’s impossible to deny Spencer’s talent from a technical standpoint, and even more so his evolution as a musician in general, but singing all the time and leaving little breathing room for the instrumentals to shine isn’t exactly the best use of his talent.

Periphery’s reputation has been on the fritz for a couple years now. From the overtly poppy Periphery II to the experimental EP Clear, not to mention the notorious hatred Periphery gleaned from the metal community over the years, it’s amazing how well Juggernaut holds up under the circumstances. The project epitomizes the best of everything the band has done before. Fans of poppy Periphery will find exactly what they want in songs like ‘Alpha’ and ‘Heavy Heart’, while those who missed Periphery’s dissonant, atonal chugging will appreciate the aggressive cuts ‘MK Ultra’ and ‘Hell Below’. Many ideas used on this project were written far before their 2010 debut even hit the shelves – the ideas themselves were shelved until Misha had a good enough group of musicians around him to help enhance and turn his vision into something tangible. Juggernaut is exactly that; it finally sees Misha’s vision come into full fruition, and serves as an apt culmination of everything Periphery has experimented with thus far. Now we can only sit back and wait to see where Periphery’s sound will go from here; the possibilities are endless.

Recommended Tracks:
Hell Below
Omega
Stranger Things



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
January 25th 2015


21988 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGfpjalwDnY&list=PLVWT5waYZYnnGk0f6fuQffLUekGazg5ez

i can die now

Digging: Periphery - Juggernaut: Omega

TalonsOfFire
January 25th 2015


10550 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Cool review, Graveless and Hell Below is an awesome one-two punch

Tunaboy45
January 25th 2015


4213 Comments


Sweet review

Digging: Marilyn Manson - The Pale Emperor

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
January 25th 2015


7134 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is this the year of the double album?

Toondude10
January 25th 2015


4571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So much better than Alpha, though it's still weaker than P2.

Good review

Gameofmetal
January 25th 2015


4340 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sweet

emester
January 25th 2015


4634 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I will admit this album wasn't unbearable.

Not good though



Digging: Runemagick - The Supreme Force of Eternity

climactic
January 25th 2015


20140 Comments


idk why but im finding these albums borderline unlistenable, obviously the vocals are the biggest negative but theres
something beyond that that i can put my finger on. its just so sterile and, idk, contrived? makes me sad cause i used to
jam the first album hard back in the day

climactic
January 25th 2015


20140 Comments


sidenote the end of "priestess" is pure opeth

CaimanJesus
January 25th 2015


16 Comments


Never gotten the appeal to these guys. Might pick up the album sometime though.

Digging: Soulfly - Dark Ages

Toondude10
January 25th 2015


4571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Kinda hard to believe that this is No. 1 on the trending list.

climactic
January 25th 2015


20140 Comments


djentified Opeth riffs

pukes

JeetJeet
January 25th 2015


886 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm being generous with this rating. Omega is really the only good song on this thing tbh

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
January 25th 2015


21988 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

omega is the highlight of the album for sure. the last four tracks on here are probably the best of the project

clim, maybe its the production that feels contrived? its extremely polished even for the band, but i think it suits their sound

ExplosiveOranges
January 25th 2015


3992 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

While I obviously don't agree with the rating entirely, I feel like you did a pretty good job here,
Ins. Your review's a lot longer and more in-depth than most of the others, which works pretty well for
explaining your viewpoint. Mindpos. And yes, the last four tracks are definitely the best between both
albums.

Digging: Apparitionist - White Noise

zaruyache
January 25th 2015


7648 Comments


the lyrics and resultant vocal melodies make the vocals awkward in more spots than they should be. (Surprise!)

Digging: We Stood Like Kings - Berlin 1927

crowing51
January 26th 2015


3468 Comments


That falsetto transition in Stranger Things is SMOOTH AS FUCK!

Digging: Lupe Fiasco - Tetsuo and Youth

Wizard
January 26th 2015


19720 Comments


Kind of enjoyed a few songs off this.

Great review dude, good read!

Digging: Napalm Death - Apex Predator - Easy Meat

WinteryIvan
January 26th 2015


2 Comments


Omega, the title song, sounded a brutalized variation of some Dream Theater-esque riffery to me. Even the sound of the song reminded me of DT, I had a good discussion about this with a drummer friend of mine who is an unbending Mike Portnoy fan. Anyway, Periphery did an amazing job in my opinion. They allowed the storytelling go ahead on this piece(s) instead of focusing too much on note-y and upbeat prog metal that they usely do. 4.5/5 in my opinion! Not as quite energetic as their previous work, but technicality has remained. They will surely return to deliver traditional riffery after this. They just wanted to deliver Juggernaut, and so they did, and even more so.

WinteryIvan
January 26th 2015


2 Comments


And to add on my previous statement, the song stuctures might retain some flavours of pop, but hey - this has worked with Devin Townsend as well, and Dream Theater (as an example) can't make an album without of including at least one or two cheesy-as-possible pop-rock ballads. So to blame Periphery for what they did, might be slightly justified, but only in a good way. They are comparable to their peers and influences, and they might just as well overthrow them one day.



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