Review Summary: Periphery III: This Time It's The Same As Last Time
Writing about Periphery has become something of a song and dance at this point. A very regularly metered one, at that.
A new album, usually entitled Periphery X: Non Sequitur!
comes out, gripes are made about Spencer Sotelo's singing (which, I'll admit, I've come to enjoy as his voice has finally found a palatable niche in Periphery's music). The reviewer then chooses to address whether Periphery are too melodic or not melodic enough (I'm in the latter camp), and everyone agrees with a broad statement that this is good, but a band with this much talent could do so
The problem with Periphery isn't even in the music anymore - the music on Periphery III: Select Difficulty
is actually pretty good, and even grows on you with time. It's catchy and, in my opinion, pretty fun. The problem isn't that this is a bad album; the problem is that after three LPs and a double album, I should have to go off script to discuss this album.
But I don't have to. Not really, at least.
(omission of sophomoric subtitle intentional and to be continued for the duration of this review) strikes almost immediately as another half-hearted flirtation with melody and a half-hearted attempt to maintain the band's chaotic and polyrhythmic roots. Sure, maybe it's another quarter inch of toe in the melody pool than its predecessors, but how much more can we really analyze the snail's pace at which the band pursue the sound that, in my humble opinion, is their most appealing? When it's counterbalanced by weighty, posturing tunes like "The Price is Wrong" (someone please fire the guy who names things in the Periphery camp) and "Motormouth," it's hard to conjecture that the band are honing in on a specific sound. Instead, Periphery seem content to fold their arms at the crossroads of two distinct musical intersections and have a seat.
Not everything's entirely stale, though. On the whole, the djent factor of the album is lower than most others (spare, perhaps, Juggernaut: Alpha
) and the inclusion of orchestral elements throughout makes things feel a little more open, inviting, and intriguing. The use of a chorus on "Marigold" also proves a smart and effective way to change things up, while the digitized bitcrushing included on "Remain Indoors" puts a tasty spin on an effect that's fairly common to the subgenre. Speaking of which, "Remain Indoors" is a strong fusion of Periphery's penchant for the heavy and prowess with catchy, more traditionally structured songs. I'd be keen to say that perhaps it'd make a good blueprint for the future, but we all know what history suggests for Periphery IV: From Fear Through the Eyes of Your Mom!
And the rest? The rest is basically the same as it was last time. Maybe a little more color added to the coloring book. Maybe the lines are a little more solid than they had been previously, but it's the same story, the same cheesy lyrics, and the same edgy semi-progressive metalcore that's going to appeal to meatheads and high school social outcasts who just want to listen to "something heavy, bruh" (but will secretly cry along to the lyrics of "Absolomb" after they suffer "the most pain anyone has ever known" from a recent breakup).
So in lieu of a real conclusion, here is a summary of which tracks fall into which expected and well-known Periphery stereotypes:
Tough guy "COME AT ME BRO" tracks:
"The Price is Wrong," "Motormouth,"
Pop-driven melodic metalcore with a sensitive bent:
"Marigold," "The Way The News Goes...," "Flatline," "Absolomb"
Songs that will confuse people attempting to mosh at the live show:
"Remain Indoors," "Habitual Line-Stepper," "Prayer Position"
"Sensitive" songs with sweet grooves hindered by lyrics that fit the hair metal and/or nu metal movement(s):
"Catch Fire," "Lune"