June 14, 2010
Album Review: "Periphery" by Periphery
In the realm of entertainment and arts, everything is capable of being reviewed. There is no form of artistic expression that is completely unable to be critiqued, no matter what some critics might have you believe. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Roger Ebert. Man up and rate The Human Centipede, ya jerk!) That being said, there are some things in the realm of the arts for which reviewing is not constructive. These are forms of art that are best left to individual interpretation and opinion, because reviewing them cannot possibly present the entire experience that occurs when the art form itself is taken in. The new self-titled album from experimental metal upstarts Periphery is one such example of this. The album itself is more than just a mere collection of songs, but rather a twisted, fragmented musical journey that goes beyond almost anything currently in existence in the realm of heavy music. And despite my misgivings, I am going to give my review of this album, although in the end, my review means nothing, because there are almost no universal truths found within the notes of Periphery.
Here are the few facts that can be gleaned from the twelve tracks on this album. First, the only way to give a complete description of Periphery's sound is to say this: Periphery is the musical equivalent of a five-way bus collision involving the members of Between the Buried and Me, Protest the Hero, 3, Karnivool, and Meshuggah. It's a disturbing image, but the resulting sound works, despite the improbability of it. Second, lead guitarist Misha "Bulb" Mansoor lives up to the formidable reputation he's gained on the Internet. The guitar work on this album is undeniably exquisite. Third, guitar virtuoso Jeff Loomis, the genius behind Nevermore, contributes an outstanding guitar solo to the closing 15-minute epic "Racecar". Beyond these three things, though, there are no absolutes and no certainties to be found on Periphery.
My reactions to the album are one possible outcome. I liked almost everything about this album. I found the contrast of the music to be quite enjoyable, reveling in the brutality of "The Walk" and "Zyglrox" contrasted by the relative softness of "Insomnia" and "Buttersnips". I liked the quiet outros on most of the songs, which seamlessly led into the next track with no break in the music. I laughed at the ending of "Icarus Lives!", and I think it's a better interlude than any skit ever included on a rock or hip-hop album. Most of all, though, I found Spencer Sotelo's voice to be the linchpin in the music, truly energizing each song to its peak emotional level.
However, it's entirely possible that you might disagree with me completely in your assessment of Periphery. That is why reviewing this album is not constructive at all. There are no words that can accurately portray the music on this album and give a proper idea of what listeners will hear. The only advice I can comfortably give is to listen to it yourself a few times and then form your own opinion on it. Periphery is such that you could hate all five groups named above as part of the band's sound, but end up loving every second of the album, and vice versa. This is truly a masterful work of musical craftsmanship, although many could consider it a disorganized, chaotic pile of garbage. The point is this: Periphery has arrived on the metal scene in a huge way. For my own sake and the sake of all those that enjoyed their debut, I hope they don't leave anytime soon.
Score: 8 out of 10
2. The Walk
3. Letter Experiment
4. Jetpacks Was Yes!
6. All New Materials
8. Icarus Lives!
9. Totla Mad
10. Ow My Feelings
Spencer Sotelo — Lead vocals
Misha Mansoor — Lead guitar
Alex Bois — Guitar, backing vocals
Jake Bowen — Guitar
Tom Murphy — Bass guitar, backing vocals
Matt Halpern — Drums