Review Summary: If it's a tag here on Sputnikmusic, then it's a genre.
I don’t think there’s any real debate on the amount of talent that Periphery have up their arsenal. Misha Mansoor and co. have certainly built themselves up as well-oiled guitar shredding, drum breaking machines throughout the groups storied near-15 years of making music. The complex arrangements, the cleanly fine-tuned production, and even Spencer Sotelo’s incredibly diverse vocal range are all a part of the Periphery brand that seems to be the envy of many other metal bands of their ilk. It’s undeniable to suggest that Periphery have certainly influenced the metal scene since their debut. And yet, I find their latest album, Periphery V
a pretty difficult album to talk about. Frankly, it’s not a bad record at all. The instrumentation is solid, the production and sound are clean and crisp, Sotelo is arguably doing his best vocal performance, it’s just about everything that fans would want from Periphery. And yet, throughout the band’s history, despite the popularity, despite the critical acclaim, the main reason why these guys have just never really done much to sway me to their side.
Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre
is the exact same fucking album as before.
For a band that was considered somewhat experimental and unique following the success of their debut, Periphery just can’t seem to really get out of their own comfort zone. Now one might point out songs like “Silhouette” having more of a pop music influence than most of the other tracks on this record. But you could say the same thing about “It’s Only Smiles” in Hail Stan
, or “The Way the News Goes…” and “Catch Fire” in Select Difficulty
, or “Heavy Heart” from Juggernaut: Alpha
. But what about the heavier, brutal tracks like “Everything is Fine!” and “Zagreus”? Well yes, but there’s also “Blood Eagle” And “CHVRCH BVRNER” from Hail Stan
, and “Motormouth” from…okay I’m pretty sure you get the idea. The issue for Periphery, and for this album especially, is that overall, there’s nothing really new or groundbreaking from the band personally. The songwriting, the instrumentation, the overly-clean production, it everything that we’ve seen from them before and they’ve done absolutely nothing to change their tune. Sure they have a very diverse catalogue under their belts, but it feels like diversity is their only real trick of their sleeve. In fact, it almost feels like they’re obsessed with it.
Quite a few times throughout the album, several songs make these dramatic change in musical direction. “Wildfire” for instance is this breakdown-heavy shredfest, then it turns into melodic metalcore halfway through, then it wants to be a pop-rock track during its instrumental bridge. “Wax Wings” suffers from the exact issue as one moment it’s one of Periphery’s more light-hearted pop-metal tunes before it suddenly decided to turn into an over-dramatic symphonic rock track a la Evanescence by the last 3 minutes. It more or less confirms the idea that Periphery take parts of different songs and molds them together in a really odd attempt at one full track, and it really suffers on this album in particular. Most tracks here are +7 minutes of odd transitions and overused codas that make these tracks needlessly longer than they need to be which are only made worse with several Starset-esque cinematic outros.
And yet, I don’t hate Periphery V
. As mentioned before, everything from the instrumentation, vocals and production, are done incredibly well throughout the whole record, there’s no denying it. When Periphery stick to a direction in their songwriting, they’re at their best. The melodic-metalcore sections in “Zagreus” and “Dracul Gras” are some of the best songwriting that Periphery have done in their careers while the heavy grit of “Everything Is Fine!” harkens back to “Blood Eagle” in a fun and exciting way. And while the constant shifts in musical direction are mainly out of place, one part in particular is “Atropos” towards the end where Periphery make a transition to an almost black metal vibe that unironically fits with the style of the song, and is very well performed.
Periphery are at their best when they’re at their most consistent. It was proven back when they released Hail Stan
back in 2019 that they were capable of making an album that didn’t contain any odd segments and transitions in their songs in a lame attempt at showing their diversity. But now Periphery have taken a step backwards, relying on their old tricks of trying to make the craziest sounding album as humanly possible, and frankly it’s rather disappointing. Periphery have the talent, the tools and the power to make a truly great metal record, it’s all a matter of if they have the willpower. Periphery V
will certainly please the fans for sure. But at some point, Periphery need to at least get a bit more serious in their songwriting, because it’s where they’re at their strongest.