Periphery released their sophomore album Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal in 2012. Periphery marked their arrival on the metal scene with vibrant and heavy music infused with technicality. Their self titled debut album made waves when it released, and for better or worse they have defined the “djent’’ sound. PII showcases the band’s ability to create heavy palm muted riffs and combine them with a healthy dose of a poppy feel good atmosphere.
The album starts with ‘Muramasa’, an ambient track with electronic elements and it builds the atmosphere. The album progresses to heavier tracks which feature some great riffs, and some catchy choruses which has become a trademark style of the band. The maturity and development of the band is very apparent. PII is a collective effort, with every member contributing with his musical finesse and ideas. The flow on the album is incredible; every track transitions to another seamlessly, without ever sounding disjointed. The album packs some serious groove, tracks such as ‘Ragnarok’ and ‘Make Total Destroy’ will definitely induce headbanging. If I had to choose my favorite tracks, they would be ‘Mile Zero’ and ‘Facepalm Mute’.
From a production standpoint, the album is absolutely flawless. The guitar parts are crunchy and they pack a punch. The bass is prominent, yet not overpowering. The drums sound absolutely fantastic, and layer after layer blends together to create a cohesive sound.
Periphery are well known for their guitar solos, and they take it a step further by incorporating guest solos by John Petrucci (Dream Theater) on ‘Erised’, Guthrie Govan ( The Aristocrats) on ‘Have a Blast’, and Wes Hauch (The Faceless) on ‘Mile Zero’. Hauch’s solo is comfortably the better solo, despite having to contend with heavyweights such as Petrucci and Govan. Apart from the guest solos, the band members do a fine job with solos, notably Jake Bowen on ‘’Luck as a Constant.’’
It would be unjust if I don’t mention the staggering Spencer Sotelo’s vocals. Spencer’s vocals were considered by many to be the weak link in the last album, but this time he has left no stone unturned and really shines on the record. The fact that he completely shunned pitch correction during post-production is a testament to his ability. “Mile Zero”, “Facepalm Mute” and “Ragnarok” are tracks where he really makes a mark.
If I had to criticize this album, I’d say it’s a bit long. With a run time of 70 mins, the album is a bit exhausting. After a while, the music tends to blur together and start sounding a bit repetitive. Even if Spencer’s vocals have massively improved, his clean vocals/screams might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Personally, PII was a slow burner. On my first listen, I felt PII was a rather safe effort compared to the first, but it took a couple of listens for it to click for me. Gradually, I have come to like it better than their debut.
Periphery have come a long way, and they are not done yet. Say what you will about Periphery and they are here to stay, and you can certainly expect more mind blowing music from them. Periphery II has undoubtedly cemented Periphery’s place in the modern metal scene as a force to be reckoned with.