Periphery has come a long way. From humble origins that saw them credited for the rejuvenation of the Progressive Metal as a genre, to continually pushing creative boundaries with each release, their newest effort Periphery IV: Hail Stan (3DOT) continues the upward musical trajectory of the band.
The most noticeable stylistic change in Hail Stan is a darker, grittier and heavier sound that had been somewhat absent from their previous releases. This was made very clear by the band since the lead single (‘Blood Eagle’) sounded, unlike most things Periphery had put out before in terms of heaviness.
However, what’s most interesting with Hail Stan is that the heaviness comes naturally instead of feeling pigeon-holed or coerced – the fifteen-minute epic ‘Reptile’ is a perfect example of the balance between the heaviness and more experimental elements laced throughout the entire album. The choice to start the album with such an expansive track also has to be commended – it drops the listener right into the sonic deep end without any hesitation or contrived preamble.
In addition to being the heaviest album that Periphery has put out, it’s also the most experimental. With a variety of different sonic palettes ranging from the Orchestral to Glitch to Alternative Rock to Industrial, Hail Stan challenges expectations. ‘Reptile’, ‘Garden In The Bones’, ‘It’s Only Smiles’, ‘Crush’ and ‘Satellites’ are examples of the band’s experimentation – showcasing exceptional musicianship whilst still retaining elements that the band is widely known for.
Aside from the music, another notable and somewhat controversial component of the band is Spencer Sotelo’s vocal style. For some, his voice is grating and takes away from the overall quality of the music, yet if those same people listen to Hail Stan and come away with the same opinion, they are neglecting how important and integral Sotelo’s vocals are to the band’s sound. He pushes himself in every imaginable vocal direction, and his talent and dedication to pushing the musical envelope cannot be understated on this record.
As with all Periphery albums, the production quality is exceptional. Self-produced, the band have really honed in a clean and clear production style which allows for plenty of detail and plenty of punch. The dynamic balance struck throughout the record is fundamentally important for an album so experimental and contrasting. Adam “Nolly” Getgood did a phenomenal job on this record.
The lads in Periphery should be very proud of Hail Stan. Members of the band have commented that this album was written for them, and it shows in terms of honest representation of the variety of influences each member has. The music thrives as a result of this melting pot of influences, both Metal and otherwise. Hail Stan showcases the band at its most sonically thorough, most musicality mature and most compositionally focused.
9 / 10