If I’ve learned anything from the internet (aside from cat’s secretly ruling the world) it’s that Periphery is the worst thing to ever happen to metal.
Or it’s that Misha Mansoor arrived on earth with the sole purpose to teach us plebs what guitar playing should really sounds like.
Yeah, the internet is split like Democrats and Republicans when it comes to this Maryland collective.
Their ambitious latest undertaking, double album Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega (Sumerian) will only strengthen that electronic divide. With Alpha and Omega running 42:55 and 40:36, respectively, ambitious is the best way to describe the much discussed follow up to 2012s Periphery II.
Everyone knows double albums are a tricky proposition. Particularly for metal or rock bands. Us metal fans are a fickle bunch. We love to denounce when a band drastically alters their approach (cough, In Flames) and piss and moan when they decide to stay the course (i.e. Cannibal Corpse’s discography). So the challenge here is twofold: how do you please the audience while keeping their attention for the span of discs worth of material? I grew up in the 90s. I remember Use Your Illusion I and II. Those are not good memories.
Fortunately for the peripherals, Periphery have, for the most part succeeded at retaining listener’s attention all while making bold, refreshing sounds.
Both Alpha and Omega feature their heaviest music as well as some of the most melodic. If there was any common sense (and taste) left in commercial rock radio, tracks like ‘Priestess’ and ‘Heavy Heart’ would have found a home on their airwaves. With that said, be prepared to get your ass handed to you by the seven string attack Mansoor, Mark Holcomb and Jake Bowen bring on ‘22 Faces’ and ‘Graveless.’ There’s also the opportunity in track ‘Omega’ for Periphery really to get their prog going. It passes the 11 minute mark without sounding like a second rate Meshuggah or Dream Theater. Most of their peers couldn’t pull that stunt, let alone a double album.
From what I gather, the reason Juggernaut getting the dicey double album format is its narrative. Alpha chronicles the birth and rise of our protagonist, while Omega details the trials and tribulations of said character. And quite frankly, I didn’t follow the narrative. While I can certainly appreciate them taking the creative chance, it feels a bit unnecessary. By eliminating the narrative and trimming some of the instrumental interludes on the first half, it is very possible to have all the great music on one disc as opposed to two. But that’s really more of a nitpick.
A few years back I felt Periphery seemed on track to become the new Killswitch Engage. That analogy still fits. Much like Killswitch shed itself of the metalcore stigma, Periphery, through strong songwriting and not playing it safe, have successfully shaken any association with djent. Now that they can’t be pigeonholed to djent or the “Sumerian sound” it leaves Periphery open to be viewed for what they truly are, a brilliant metal band.
Who cares what the internet says.
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