It’s been a fantastic year for heavy music so far. From Miss May I’s surprisingly mature At Heart to Every Time I Die’s crowning achievement Ex Lives, there’s a lot for a metalhead to be thrilled about. Periphery’s Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal is no exception, expertly blending a progressive metal sound with a synth-y feel for an album that simply slays. The album’s 69-minute run-time may deter some listeners, but every single minute is part of one euphoric journey, and is well worth the trip.
“Muramasa,” the interchanging opener, starts like a typical synth-metal single before erupting into a reverberating display of guitars and technical precision. The song again changes course with vocalist Spencer Sotelo showcasing an impressive scream behind fantastically heavy instrumentation. “Muramasa” instantly grabs the listener’s attention, proving a noteworthy track right from the get-go. “Have a Blast” is a heavy-hitter, featuring speedy and crunchy guitars and a groove that should easily make it a fan-favorite, while the solo by the well-known Guthrie Govan (formerly in Asia) is simply fantastic. “Facepalm Mute” has Sotelo giving one of his best vocal performances of the album, and features an electronic-ish finale that is intriguing rather than annoying.
“Ji” again showcases a strong sense of musicianship, and the band proves beyond all doubt that they’re experts in changing things up at a constant rate, thus keeping listeners on their toes. “Scarlet” is one of Periphery’s strongest tracks, brilliantly balancing a menacingly heavy sound with a haunting melodic sound. The guitars are the main highlight – simply entrancing and filled with soul. “Ragnarok” is one of the heavier tracks on the album and is another standout. “Make Total Destroy” is an appropriate first single for the album, featuring that “Sumerian sound” that should click for fans of metal.
“Erised” features the second of three guest guitar solos, this time bringing progressive metal forefather John Petrucci of Dream Theater for what is the most sensual solo on the album. “Mile Zero” has the third and final solo from Wes Hauch of The Faceless. By itself, the track is grand and wonderful, with top-notch execution. With the fascinatingly brief solo, the song is yet another highlight (let’s face it, most of these songs are highlights). “Masamune” is a great closer, keeping in line with the rest of the album’s sound. It encapsulates perfectly what the album was about from start to finish, and should leave listeners breathless.
Periphery II is one of the best metal albums of the year and we’re not even close to December. It takes everything we know about progressive metal (and Periphery themselves) and turns it upside down for an album that never contains a predictable moment. It’s heavy, sensual, melodic, and stunningly original work. Periphery again proves why they are one of the forefathers of current “djent metal.” Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal is a remarkable album that will cast a huge shadow on the current state of heavy music.