Review Summary: Periphery: Beta
Over the past decade metal has become a place of artistic stagnation, even though many fans may argue that music is creatively infinite, which is a perfectly valid argument to the question: will we ever bore ourselves out of our favorite genre? There are bands who try to respond to this, by trying to overflow their musical pieces with polyrhythms and intricate riffs.
Periphery can now be considered the most commercially successful acts of that "new wave" of prog metal bands, such as Intervals, Animals as Leaders, to name a couple. Although they've been around for at least ten years, they're still initiating their journey through the industry. And, of course, I label it “industry” for a specific reason. It's a verifiable truth that not always the best musical acts get the most praise and recognition. Sometimes, mediocre musicians get spotlight because of their cheesy personalities, overblown guitar skills or even their clean, family friendly demeanor. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it is the case with this North American band.
The music on this release is as robotic as ever, particularly the vocals. Even though they went along pretty well with the music in their previous record, Periphery II, this time along it fails. Sure, there still are some catchy, emotional choruses associated to it, such as in the songs “Alpha” and “ The Bad Thing”, but the rest will not resonate in the listener's ear.
Pop music instrumentals are simple for a reason: so that the vocalist takes the main stand. One cannot sing comfortably over polyrhythms and pretend he is the driving force behind the band, which is exactly what Spencer tries to do. Perhaps his own ego is driving him to completely destroy the creativity of the remaining members, or maybe he is just to naïve to realize what he is doing to the songs.
Unfortunately, this is the problem with this sub-genre – and perhaps many others: in order to achieve commercial success, one has to impose a human voice over the music. I'm sure a lot of the members would agree with this statement. If they want to win the mainstream audience, they have to sing simple melody lines over intricate and nausea inducing riffs.
Another question emerges from all of this: what is good music? This question might seem subjective, but it may not be so. After all, good music evokes an emotional reaction on the listener. Therefore, if the band's sound lacks the human factor, it will most likely fail to touch the listener's emotions. For these specific reason “ Alpha” diverges from the idea of quality music.
Overall, it feels and sounds as if a machine performed the recordings. Let's then pretend that every single person will thoroughly enjoy this release.