Released: Jul 3, 2012
Genre: Progressive Metal, Djent, Experimental Rock, Groove Metal
Label: Sumerian Records, Century Media, Roadrunner
Number Of Tracks: 14
For anyone who enjoyed Periphery's first full length album, "Periphery", this album is a huge step up.
Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
prsfan, on august 03, 2012 5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: Alright, let me put the record straight. This album is brilliant. Matt Halpern is a beast behind the kit. Spencer Sotelo has opened up even more as a vocalist and attempted more daring vocal styles on this effort. He produced his own vocals, so it comes out even more original-feeling than Periphery's debut album. This is a djent-lover's album, but it also applies to simple lovers of music. Every single track stands out in some way or another. Also, I have a new-found respect for Jake Bowen as a musician. He is credited with composing "Luck As a Constant" and performing the solo at the end. Oh man, what a sweet job he did.
Misha might as well be a certified genius. This is some really quality music. As the name of the band implies, this band stretches the limit on what you might find out on the peripherals of your musical landscape. Sweet riffs defined by sweeps, bad a-s solos, melody, mastery of modern synth production, extremely high vocal range, death growls, a few straightforward rhythms, but for the most part, eloquently-performed rhythmic and tonal passages, there's really "a lot going on" on this album. And yet, its structure is simple, organized, and slick as butter thanks to smooth transitioning all through the album (it's supposedly one single concept divided into 14 parts, similar to Meshuggah's "Catch 33", which is one entire 47 minute duration of music subdivided into 13 tracks). There is even a recurring theme highlighted on the album, which is indicated on the back of the album cover by making the color of the names of "Muramasa", "Ragnarok", and "Masamune" lighter than the color of the other 11 tracks. You will hear this recurring theme in the lyrics and rhythms contained in those three tracks.
No question this is a metal album. But as long as you like metal and appreciate good music, you should love what you hear from this album. These guys are playing their instruments, and they are playing them well for over an hour of entertainment. The thing is, with this album, Periphery has really begun to define their own little niche. It's as if Misha and his crew are beginning to walk away with this all. I know this album is recent, but already I anticipate Periphery's next release. I imagine they will mature as a group even more and deliver even more substantial music than you'll hear from this album. Their debut album was more or less the compilation of six+ years of effort finally realized as a major release. With this release, you can tell they are really getting their feel as a group.
I have no complaints about the music. It's bad a-s, entertaining, and masterfully produced and executed. Well done, Periphery. // 10
Lyrics: Lyrics are more honest. They are thought-provoking ideas. I'd say the lyrics fit the music. It's raw expression of some creative minds, and they're bringing it to the table. Spencer Sotelo sounds greater than ever and fits this band well. In the scheme of all vocalists, he isn't bringing much bottom end; he's a high-pitched guy, and that's just it. This, in my opinion, leaves something to be desired if you're being constantly bombarded by notes you'll never be able to hit convincingly. Music is nice when it's easy to get involved. But it's a small complaint. Since Spencer has improved, he is much more enticing to listen to and appreciate. He's "found himself" more. His growls have acquired some real brutality, in contrast with the thin rasp we found on the first album, probably displayed best on "The Walk". As far as melody, Spencer is an incredible vocalist. What he does, he does well. Although at times, it seems like he has this young feel to him, as if he is still fresh to the feel of the band and exposing your heart and soul through the vocals, he's maturing, so it'll come. For now, he's on the right track: I give him an "A" on this effort. // 9
Overall Impression: It's a great album. It brings a wide range of djent, progressive ideas to the table. It has smooth production and amazing instrumental passages. I'd say the best tracks were "Luck As a Constant", "Ragnarok", and "Erised", the latter of which features Dream Theater's own John Petrucci, a self-proclaimed guitar idol for Misha. "Luck As a Constant" simply has some banging-a-s rhythms and a beast-ass solo by Jake Bowen. "Ragnarok" has some seriously beast-ass polyrhythms and a turn that drops the song to a whole new level. It's a seriously bad-ass song which backs its naming up well. If you haven't noticed, Misha has paid homage to the classic SNES RPG Chrono Trigger, one of THE greatest games ever conceived by mankind, by making the title of two songs named "Epoch" (an instrumental track) and "Masamune". Epoch was the name of the time-traveling aircraft you received later in the game, and Masamune was the title of a blade, composed of two entities, appropriately named "Masa" and "Mune". When I think of the word "ragnarok", I instantly think of epic dragons and lightning, mostly courteous of exposure to Japanese animes like Yu-Gi-Oh! Well Misha brings some bad ass music to back up such a title. "Ji" is a track featuring more Major-keyed melodies and either 8-string riffing or really detuned 7-stringers. It's another one of my favorites. The first real opening track, "Have a Blast", is another great piece that sets the tone of the album well. "Scarlet" and "Make Total Destroy" are the two songs released as singles before the album dropped. "Scarlet" comes across as a song you'd have as a radio single if you're going to have one, but it still has Periphery's unique style peppering it nicely.
If I'm going to critique this album, then I must mention where I think there needs to be improvement. Firstly, I appreciate the wealth of music to be found on this compact disc I have purchased. And admittedly, Periphery makes it damn hard for any part of the album to recede away from memory any faster than any other part. Each song is so original. But there comes a point in the balance when what you are hearing overall is more of the same. A lot of this music is face-melting progressions of rhythm melody. Within the context, its all gravy. But as an entire idea, I might prefer a later release to be more "refined", let's say. I don't want the album to feel like a mash-up of every cool riff you came up with (although all the riffs are pretty bad-a-s to be blunt). And although I really love all the music on the album and am hooked on most of it, it's true to say that at some point, it's just too much damn music. If you're Periphery, and you find a way to present yourself in 40 to 45 minutes, you're doing well for a progressive band. But the Periphery we have now, no matter how brilliant, gives us 70 minute debuts and near-70 minute follow-ups. Misha, your music is amazing, and I really love all of it. But if you'll find a way to condense it to a tighter, more pure, harder-hitting package, you'll ascend even higher, comrade!
Other than this, it's hard to find fault here. This was some of the best money I've ever spent. Periphery really stepped it up here, and this is simply an album worth having. Mark my words: this band isn't done. By a long shot. What is coming in the future is worth anticipating. Enjoy this band now, and keep them on your radar for the future. // 10
Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
John19Morley93, on july 03, 2012 3 of 9 people found this review helpful
Sound: Hot damn. For anyone who enjoyed Periphery's first full length album, "Periphery", this album is a huge step up, or at least in my opinion, and here's why! First of all, let's be honest, lots and lots of metal fans out there love an eerie, atmospheric intro or build up track to an album! It helps set a mood for the album and gives you an idea of how the rest of the album is going to follow on. The track in question on this album is "Muramasa", and is certainly one for my favourites! It is a song in itself of course, and not strictly an introduction, but the start of it certainly has that epic synthetic build up that adds tension and atmosphere. Brilliant song, that flows fantastically well throughout itself and into the next track!
For anyone reading this who counts themselves as a fan of the combination of metal and synthesisers/keyboards... You're in for a treat! There are tons of loops behind the instrumental sections that almost seem to mimic the guitars, especially behind any reverb as hell lead parts! Something I should certainly comment on is the mixing and overall production of this album! Which can be simply summed up with, "Wow". The guitars retain their heaviness yet are as clear as day when trying to work out the notes. The vocals are brilliantly performed and mixed with the other instruments, so that they're all at a nice equal sounding volume. Amazingly well produced and performed album I must say, 10/10 here! // 10
Lyrics: I can't really comment on the lyrics as I don't know any just yet, however they flow beautifully with th music, whatever they are! You can work out the odd passage here and there, such as "can you silence your opinion of the...", which is enough for me, as I like an album that you have to listen to once or twice to get the lyrics and passages down by memory!
Speaking of singer skills, I instantly rate 9/10! Great vocalist, with a brilliant voice when harsh or clean! Live and studio, he can pull it off and deliver a great performance, in which you can hear the emotion and effort put into it! I give 9 instead of 10 however because as much as it's fantastic, I prefer (personally), slightly more melodic death metal style of vocals! But if you're more into djent, then your problems won't exist here! // 9
Overall Impression: It certainly compares to the last album and in my opinion, surpasses it technically, emotionally, instrumentally, etc etc... The guitar and bass parts as just as hugely complicated and inspiring, with brilliant simplistic grooves between the insanely complex tapping sections! The drums are just what they need to be! Not over progressive nor under! They fit the patterns of the music fantastically and bring a nice feel to it! Much easier and nicer to listen to than blast beats behind some angry brutal death metal! Vocals are just as wonderful as the first album, even though a different vocalist! Lots of nice echoey clean parts over the choruses and bridges, with insanely well pulled off harsh sections over some of the verses and other bridges! Great vocalist!
So far, my favourite songs from the album have to be "Muramasa", "Ji" and "Have A Blast"! They all seem to perfectly blend atmospheric, clean, almost tranquil sounding parts with the harsh, deep, chugging parts without leaving a confused expression on your face, only a smile! There's absolutely nothing I hate about this album, it's just not as high up as some of my all time favourites, but it's definitely getting there already! I love pretty much everything! Cool artwork, brilliant production, crazy guitar solos, fair price too!
If it were stolen or loss, I'd certainly buy it again! Well worth the money you pay! 10 for a nifty folding case and bonus tracks! Highly recommend his! Definitely considering it an album of the year for me! Have fun djenting! // 9
Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
TheManvier, on july 09, 2012 2 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: "Periphery II: This Time It's Personal" is the 2nd LP by Maryland-based Progressive Metal band Periphery, popular among the internet for being half of the driving force behind the "djent" movement, the other half being Meshuggah. Let's get one thing out of the way now. Like Periphery or not, their production is fantastic. Thanks to Bulb (Misha Mansoor, the creator of Periphery)'s remarkable experience as a producer, this album sounds awesome. On certain songs, the grooves really "pop" thanks to the production ("Make Total Destroy", "Ji", "Face Palm Mute").
This album is full of variety. It begins with a quite epic intro track which, coming in at 2:55, is short and sweet ("Muramasa"). It takes inspiration from a variety of sources including classical music ("Have A Blast", "Froggin' Bullfish"), techno ("Have A Blast", "Ragnarok", "Epoch"), and even pop, especially in the vocals ("Ji", "Make Total Destroy", "Scarlet"). There is also/acoustic clean guitar parts on this LP as well ("Luck As A Constant", "Froggin' Bullfish"). It also helps that Periphery as a whole is a group of very talented musicians. There is a ballad type track near the end, similar to the band's previous song, "Jetpacks Was Yes" ("Erised"), next to an instrumental, ambient/techno track ("Epoch"), and the album ends on a strong note with an epic, 6 minute track ("Masamune").
Longtime fans need not worry either, Periphery are still metal. There are songs with heavy grooves ("Make Total Destroy", "Mile Zero", "Ji", "Face Palm Mute", "Ragnarok", "The Gods Must Be Crazy!"), songs with incredible death growls from vocalist Spencer Sotelo ("Luck As A Constant", "Ragnarok", "Have A Blast"), and songs with mind bending solos, from the lead guitarist (Misha Mansoor) and also guest guitarists such as Guthrie Govan ("Have A Blast"), John Petrucci ("Erised"), and Wes Hauch ("Mile Zero"). Overall, this album will not disappoint longtime fans of Periphery, and will offer a great music experience to newcomers thanks to this LP's incredible variety and style. // 10
Lyrics: Vocalist Spencer Sotelo was adamant about not using pitch corrected vocals at all on this LP, and it honestly sounds like he doesn't need them. Spencer sings cleanly with his own distinctive style, adding interesting flourishes to his voice, which sounds great. His vocals almost sound like a pop singer's (in a good way) ("Ji", "Scarlet", "Erised"), until he starts death growling and screaming. When Spencer growls, the growl is sharp and articulate but still crushingly brutal ("Luck As A Constant", "Make Total Destroy"). Lyrically, Spencer has many different topics on this LP to discuss, ranging from being stuck in a desert which he was deserted in, and is now absolutely pissed off about ("Ragnarok"), to simply feeling like he is being controlled ("Luck As A Constant", especially lines like "shut the f--k up and let us live a life we can call out own, leave me alone!"). Overall, Spencer's vocal abilities are greatly improved over the last release from "Periphery" ("Icarus" EP), and his varying lyrical topics always keep the songs interesting. // 10
Overall Impression: Overall, this album is a fantastic release. Periphery should gain many fans from this release, as it is easily their most accessable release yet, but it does not sacrifice what makes Periphery what it is at its core: groovy, progressive, djent-y metal. Personally, my favorite songs on this LP have heavy grooves throughout, with some breaks to calm things down ("Make Total Destroy", "Ji", "Masamune"), or are beautiful ballads with grooves in between sections ("Erised", "Muramasa"). My least favorite songs are "Epoch" (because while it does sound good, I personally don't like it and feel as if it is very out of place with the rest of the album), and "Scarlet" (I see the appeal in it, but Spencer's vocals seem slightly whiny on this song for some reason. It just doesn't sound right to me). Overall, this LP is AMAZING. I have loved Periphery since their self-titled LP and this is only making me like them more. Amazing drumming and guitar playing, perfectly crafted songs, and great vocals from Spencer Sotelo make "Periphery II: This Time It's Personal" a 10/10 in my book. Can't wait to get my pre-order CD! // 10
Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
DarkWolfXV, on july 23, 2012 2 of 33 people found this review helpful
Sound: Trends, trends come, and then pass away. In metal, we had glam metal, nu metal, metalcore, deathcore, and more recently, as you would call it "djent" or "progressive metal" if you prefer. Periphery, is one of these main "djent" bands, other would be starter of genre, Meshuggah, who in my opinion, "djent" far better than Periphery. The production is good, as you would expect this from Periphery.
Now, if you are fanboy, close your eyes, hide in a closet, or just sit down and watch how I destroy your worldview. Songs to me sound like pop meets metal, and in metal there is no place for this. Guitars have bit of technicality, but really, this all has been done previously, and is done far better in realm of technical death metal like Origin and Necrophagist. Drums are decent, your standard djent drums. Here comes my most hated part - the vocals, totally generic, pop clean vocals (Good that at least no pitch correction seems to be used here), and harsh vocals, which I wont even call growls, are plain metalcore awful harsh vocals, real growls are done like Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, if you want to go more extreme, and Demilich if you want something utterly horrifying and mind destroying. Harsh vocals are basically attempts to growl, no high rasps, so this is minus for me since I like high and low harsh vocals, cleans are sometimes good addition, but not when they are done like its pop. But what would you expect from a band which wants to appeal to wide audience even outside of metalheads.
The bit I like in this album, and this really stands out are synth melodies, which stand out and add to album atmosphere. Overall, sound is djent (which I don't really enjoy) plus cool synth melodies ruined by whiny clean vocals. // 6
Lyrics: About lyrics, well, lyrics are actually good, sometimes even poetic, so it is nothing I would complain about. Song titles are not generic, but I'd rather prefer generic titles than generic vocals. The singer clean voice manages to hit all notes without autotune, but, too bad for me, his clean voice is whiny and sounds like pop. Harsh vocals are standard metalcore vocals. Hell, I would even prefer Suicide Silence than this in terms of vocals (I don't like deathcore either, but I don't hate is as much as most of "djent"). Overall, lyrics good, clean vocals passable, and harsh vocals a bad attempt to be cool and brutal. // 5
Overall Impression: I did not yet listen to anything other made by Periphery, and I highly doubt I ever will. This does not compare to Meshuggah, which are monotonic after few songs, but still maintains metalness through whole album, based on this album, Periphery seems to be less monotonic than Meshuggah, but also less aggressive and "metal". Only song that I remember is "Make Total Destroy" which had very aggressive chugging (But its still plain chugging, so its a big letdown), aside from the single song, synth melodies are really good, production is good, instruments are decent, manage to be aggressive at times, but too midpaced.
To answer all your questions I just created by making this review, why I don't like this album, this is why. My favorite genre is death metal, and my view of metal is that no matter what genre, it should be heavy, aggressive, and speak about overall, problems of the world (death, war, social problems, politics etc.). And before you say I'm a hater, no I'm not a hater, I tried to be very open minded and unbiased while writing this, my review is totally honest, it is my opinion, and I can have MY opinion, you can have YOUR opinion.
Overall, this album deserves a 6, because, it is not I really can call true metal, my ears hurt after listening to this, even sometimes technically proficient lines don't do. After this review, I'm going to plug in and relax with Carcass: "Necroticism Descanting The Insalubrious" and forget about this semi-decent trendy album. // 6
Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
naw2, on march 27, 2013 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: This Maryland based sextext are currently doing the rounds being (in my opinion) the new face of modern progressive metal. And it is really not hard to see why. The sound this band is able to put across is pretty huge, with outrageous instrumental ability across the board, weird and wacky guitar tunings, fantastic but not overbearing use of electronic sounds and some utterly fantastic production from founding member/guitar player Misha Mansoor. This album also signifies massive changes for the band in terms of multiple changes in line-up, changing bassist and guitar player in the process so to see a band settle in this quickly is a fantastic sign. // 8
Lyrics: Lyrics were something that Periphery had not struggled with writing songs that always had a great meaning to them and took the art of saying something without saying it directly and ran with it. This skill is largely continued on this album now that the current vocalist Spencer Sotelo is writing them unlike on the previous record where it was the rest of the band and their previous vocalist Chris Barretto. Some of the best lyrics come from the album's desperately emotional penultimate track 'Mile Zero' which is a song sung about Spencer's friend Shawn Bennet who passed away during the writing of this album.
On the band's first album Spencer Sotelo was probably the weakest part of the band as a whole. However on this album he has come across as a completely different beast. Previously his voice did not sound especially unique and was perhaps on memorable for having quite a large pitch rage but on this album all elements are a massive improvement. Everything from the power and diversity of his harsher vocals to the identity and memorability of his cleans and even his tone range has come on so much he can now comfortably match the immense talent of the rest of his band mates. // 8
Overall Impression: 1. "Muramasa" - This serves as an intro track in a way because it is quite short and not a technically minded as the other tracks of the album. What is does have a lovely full sounding chord sequence, some nice guitar harmonies and a lovely opening clean vocal. A very good way to set up the rest of the album. This track is also the first part of a trilogy of songs within the album.
2. "Have A Blast" - The slightly mental intro uses synthesizers allied to a live violin sets up a very technical opening riff which staggeringly continues over the vocals. However the 'chorus' type section (if you can call it that) is extremely calm though, using more ambient guitar tones, straighter rhythms and a genuinely catchy vocal melody which gives the song a fantastic use of contrast. A wonderful way to explode the album into life. As an extra note this song features a big guitar solo from former Asia guitarist Guthrie Govan.
3. "Faceplam Mute" - An immediate guitar intro shows that this song is definitely not here to mess around. This is the first song where an actual chorus to speak of arrives. It's a big one being lead by that "We Are One" refrain. What impresses most here however is the use of synthesizers after the main body of the song is finished. Such a relaxing and drastic contrast to the rest of the song it shows a sign of real musical diversity.
4. "Ji" - An 8 string guitar is perhaps the most defining feature of this song. The sound of the extra low strings on the guitars gives the song extra meat. However that's not all that there is to this song. This song I surprisingly upbeat. The use of a lot of major key phrases is something that is not often used in very, very heavy music so it is a nice tonal change.
5. "Scarlet" - A song with perhaps the most subtle yet technical guitar lines on the album. Using the seemingly simple E minor to C major chord sequence in the verse it can come across as very simple but the high end lines are always moving and for the first time the bass is the sole instrument holding things together for large chunks of the song. The best part of the song for me is the intense, overlapped harsh vocals in the second verse. Sotelo does a brilliant job of convincing us that there is more than one person in the vocal booth with him, or at least that's the impression I was getting.
6. "Luck As A Constant" - It starts off as if it's going to go into a ballad type song but then explodes into a heavy, disjointed, aggressive yet mainly major key number. This song has the most overt use of different time signatures within sections songs on the album to date which at this point makes it the most purely progressive. Also high credit should be given to Misha Mansoor for an excellent guitar solo
7. "Ragnarok" - The sort of jazzy drum fill in the opening seconds of the song is very misleading as it once again explodes into a disjointed, rhythmically, off set guitar and harsh vocals. This song is perhaps a good time to highlight one of the strange guitar tunings that Periphery use. From top low to high the strings go F#-D#-G#-C#-F#-A#-D# which comes in very handy for massive clean vocal section in the middle of the song using the low F# to ground the key. This section also see's a huge high F# note from the vocalist that just exudes power and confidence. It's an absolute musical powerhouse and the best song on the album in my opinion. This is the second part of the trilogy that was started with the opening track.
8. "The Gods Must Be Crazy" - It almost seems that this song waits before starting, allowing the mellow electronic outro of the previous track to fully peter out before snapping us back into the album this this track contemplating the state of religion. There is something of mid 2000's Killswitch Engage about how this song is put together but even then the band and the vocalist are able to turn that around make it sound more unique to themselves in a very convincing way.
9. "Make Total Destroy" - Using the lower G# tuned 7 strings and slap bass techniques on both bass and guitars and well as taping this song in a sense is a bit of snap shot of what the whole album before and after is about. Little wonder I suppose it was chosen as the first of two singles released from the album to date. It's also probably the angriest song on the album to date in terms of lyrics.
10. "Erised" - The lyrics of this son and the previous one seem to be linked in topic: The failures of the world e live in and the people that inhabit it. However the two songs could not be more different. This song is more of a ballad with ambient high guitar lines going almost throughout the song and a lack of harsher vocals anywhere in the song. For the first I can note an especially good performance by the band's bassist Adam "Nolly" Getgood. There are really two huge standout moments in this song. The first is the brilliant drum solo by one of the best drummers around at the moment in Matt Halpern which followed directly by a guitar solo by (in my opinion) the best guitarist ever to step foot in a recording studio John Petrucci of Dream Theater, and it is a peach of a solo from harmonized section towards the end to the "Erotomania" style ending it is just so well put together.
11. "Epoch" - This little dance interlude is quite a strange track. It uses many cliches prevalent in modern dance music but in no way does it sound unoriginal or bland in anyway. It's also very calm and in a way very melancholy because it capitalizes on the calmer nature of Erised to leave the listener so mellow it's like they are somehow out of reality.
12. "Froggin Bullfish" - I think we know what the song title is actually trying to say. This song brings us back to reality with a violent yet very satisfying bump, reminding us that we are listening to a Metal record rather than easy listening dance. And it does with slices of the familiar with big disjointed riffs and power house vocal lines that the band are now becoming much better known for. However the acoustic guitar that comes in as the outro is not only a sudden change for song but it is very different from what the rest of the album has done because it has steered away from electronic interludes that listeners will have come accustomed to.
13. "Mile Zero" - As I have already mentioned above this song, entirely due to the Spencer Sotelo's lyrics and vocal performance is desperately emotional. It shows how the band did not go all out in terms of instrumental madness. This shows a maturity that quite a few bands that write metal these days seem to miss. Also top marks to guest guitarist Wes Hauch for nailing the emotion of the song perfectly in his guitar solo.
14. "Masamune" - This is the song that ends not only the album but the trilogy of songs that went on within the course of the album. This song is characterized in the same way Muramasa and Ragnarok are: Spectacularly heavy guitar lines, more use of straight rhythms, strangely tuned guitars and very very strong clean vocals. It brings every element of the bands music, mixes it up in a ball and throws it at the listener the same way they have for the rest of the album and adds an outro that is as dissonant and noisy as Muramasa was clean and melodic. Quite frankly a spectacularly terrifying way to this wonderful album.
Overall I must say, even as a fan of the bands first album, this is not only an improvement it is on a different planet. From the massive instrumental prowess that is forever managing to make me gasp in astonishment in all departments, to the song writing craft that is somehow even more prevalent and amazing to the fact this is only the bands second album makes me think we could have a band that could take over in the circles of progressive metal and rule in same way Dream Theater have done for so many years. // 9
Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
laid-to-waste, on august 13, 2012 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Periphery have changed their sound from their first album to more dynamic and very broad-ranged guitar parts, fitting electronic noises, pumping verse rhythms and more subtle breakdowns. Spencer Sotello, the singer and frontman of Periphery, is said to have composed the song "Facepalm Mute" by himself. The involvement of the other band members (as opposed to just Misha making everything) has added a very dynamic and refreshing contrast between songs. They have more simple yet elegant rhythms, as opposed to the usual pseudo-complexity that gets tiring in the progressive-metal scene, that focus more on how good they sound rather than how impressive they may seem to remember, which is the characteristic trait of a well-prioritized musician, which is no doubt a worthy label for the members of Periphery. // 8
Lyrics: Spencer's lyrics throughout the album, as you will have noticed, have a single consistency that runs throughout three songs on the album ("Muramasa", "Ragnarok", "Masamune") which is the line "In the distance we can see, shining, clear; our demise to be. We're not listening to ourselves.". The highest note hit on the album would be during the climax in the latter-half of the song "Ragnarok". Spencer's varied vocal style was impressive in their first album, but in this one, it's major-league impressive. From the heavy low-tone growls he belts out of his belly-button in "Masamune", to the beautiful melodies that bring the bridge in "Ji" to life, Spencer really knows how to create different sounds. As for the meaning of the lyrics, I believe there are certain lines that attribute to the forthcoming sounds of a track, for example "Cast away. I feel the heavens slowly turning grey." is a line in "Masamune", beautifully inserted in a transitional period between a happy melody and a simple rhythm to a complex and apprehensively timed diminished chugging rhythm that closes the album. There has also been speak of many "Final Fantasy" references, along with "Harry Potter" references among others. One criticism of the vocal performance is that sometimes Spencer's screaming tone can be a little too whinny for my taste, although it is sufficiently deep and guttural to sooth a chugging guitar rhythm. Some overlapping melodies Spencer creates are a little bit closely packed and overwhelming, which would be better off if they were given room to have their own dignities and flourish (for example, the "Scarlet" chorus). // 8
Overall Impression: Periphery have a 'repeat quality' to them because they are very multi-dimensional. Other bands such as Veil Of Maya have their fine moments, but they do not have music that warrants a second listen, or a wholesome listen. I feel like their music expires after the opening breakdown every single song has. Periphery seems to have a quality in their music which makes me want to listen to entire songs, and not just one energy-consuming breakdown that people like to skip to. Overall, it deserves a clap and a couple good listens before they release what promises to be a quality third album. // 9
Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
travislausch, on august 15, 2012 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Periphery have been the go-to band for guitar nerds for the last couple years. While metalcore has been evolving into something a bit more homogenous to appeal to masses, Periphery has bucked the trend and given us two deliciously proggy albums and an EP so far, and show no signs of stopping, as this was intended to be one of two releases this year (the other appears to be on hold for now).
On their past releases, Periphery were nothing more than guitarist Misha Mansoor's demos having been re-recorded, with very little input from the rest of the band. While many of the songs on this record originate from the same pile of home demos, Misha allowed the other members of the band (vocalist Spencer Sotelo, guitarists Adam "Nolly" Getgood and Jake Bowen, bassist Mark Holcomb, and drummer Matt Halpern) to exert some of their own creative pull on this record. That resulted in pieces like "Have A Blast!", the second track on the album, to come to life, as only half of it was written prior to the sessions for this record. "Facepalm Mute" actually came from a riff written by Spencer, who by all accounts isn't that great of a guitarist, yet it's a pretty crushing riff. "Ji" features a distinctive "rhythm solo" composed by Misha and Mark, where the rhythm guitar plays a non-repeating cycle of riffs in place of a traditional lead guitar part. It's clear that the influence of the other members has left a mark on the band's sound.
Of particular note on this record is the lack of pitch-correction on the vocals. Spencer's singing is amazing on this record, and while I'm personally not the biggest fan of his growls, his cleans more than make up for it by showing one hell of a vocal range.
But physical vocal or playing range isn't the only impressive aspect of this record. The band goes in so many directions on this record, from lengthy and complex proggy tunes like "Have A Blast!" to damn near commercial hard rock songs like "Scarlet", and all territories in between. There's an amazing amount of restraint on much of the album, as well. Whatever is being played usually carries Spencer's vocal melodies or one of the myriad guitar solos on the record nicely.
While we're on the topic of guitar solos, that's pretty much the reason we're all into Periphery in the first place, right? This record doesn't disappoint. There are plenty of lead guitar moments here. Though not every song has a guitar solo, when they do, they're usually pretty good. Misha, Adam, and Jake all have very modern solo styles that kind of sound a bit like Steve Vai and John Petrucci at times. There are three guest solos on the album as well, "Have A Blast" features Guthrie Govan, "Erised" features John Petrucci (who happens to be Jake's uncle), and "Mile Zero" employs the talents of The Faceless' Wes Hauch. Guthrie's solo is sublimely fusion-esque and has some wild bends. Petrucci delivers something kinda standard for him, featuring plenty of sweeps and alternate-picked scalar runs. Wes Hauch's solo may be the best guest solo here, and is surprisingly melodic considering The Faceless' music.
The band also leans far less heavily on the "djent" guitar sound that got them famous, and will even admit to that in interviews (like in the latest issue of "Guitar World", where Jake doesn't even hesitate to mention it). This doesn't necessarily mean there's no "DJENT-DJENT-DJENT-DJENT" anywhere on the record, but they certainly use it a lot less than they used to. Even things like Meshuggah-esque polymeters are used far less here than the past. The songs feel more like songs than just collections of similar-sounding riffs now.
If I had to come up with a criticism of the sound of this record, I don't think I could really come up with anything convincing. However, as I mentioned, I'm not the biggest fan of Spencer's harsh vocals. I wouldn't mind if their songs were all clean, or if they got a better harsh vocalist. I know he's talented at it, but I just don't care much for his particular style. Personal preference. But that's enough for me to make this one shy of a perfect 10. // 9
Lyrics: Cryptic lyrics are usually the name of the game for Periphery. That doesn't mean, however, that sing-along choruses don't exist on this record. Even if you're not really sure what they mean, you'll probably end up singing along with some of the lines on this record, like this gem:
(from "Have A Blast!")
"And it's the thrill of life that enables us to flow. Locked
In the spirit's line, souls entwine, to journey on as one."
Lyrical themes seem to be equally ambiguous spirituality, and ambiguous anger. Nothing overtly plot-like in the songs, though the first track, "Muramasa", seventh track "Ragnarok", and album closer "Masamune" form a loose trilogy, sharing a common lyric and melodic motif, as well as titles based on three swords from a Final Fantasy game.
Spencer seems to use his clean vocals a bit more often on this record. In fact, "Scarlet" and "Erised" almost entirely consist of clean vocals. This is a welcome change, as I really enjoy Spencer's singing, and as mentioned above, he's good enough at it that he doesn't need no silly auto-tune or pitch correction. Take that, modern music production! I've never been the biggest fan of the really core-ish harsh vocals, but they do the job. Spencer might have one of the greatest sets of pipes in the business right now. // 9
Overall Impression: Compared to their debut and the "Icarus" EP, this is a much more cohesive, musical album that leans less on their original "djent" style for a more organic prog-metal sound. Vocally superior to all of their old material, "Periphery II" is definitely a contender to me for "album of the year", and it's only August!
While any track on the record is sure to please anyone looking for modern, melodic prog-metal that doesn't just sound like another Dream Theater ripoff, or metalcore that doesn't sound like another Meshuggah ripoff (though I know you're all thinking otherwise), my favourite tracks on the record would have to be "Have A Blast!", "Erised", and "Ji". The former is just chock full of riffs that I never would have expected out of a metal band. In fact, they sound very influenced by the likes of Nobuo Uematsu or Steve Vai. "Erised" is a perfect example, to me, of Periphery laying back and doing a simple song in a really emotionally effective way. You could call it their "power ballad", I guess. Petrucci's solo also opens with two of the finest opening bars I've heard him play in ages. "Ji" uses the eight-string guitar in a far more inventive way than I'd do it if I had one. And the "rhythm solo" is just a really interesting piece that deserves to be put in a museum or something.
There's nothing I actually hate about this album. Spencer's shouts may not be my piece of cake, but I can't imagine this record being as effective without them. The production is amazing. There are enough riffs and solos on this record to keep any musician happy for a long time. It's their most melodic moment to date, but there are some riffs on here that have the kind of balls they only wish they had on the debut record. It's not a completely flawless record, but it might be the closest thing to one I hear all year, so overall, I give this record a 9/10. // 9
Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
unregistered, on august 27, 2012 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Might as well start off with this: I'd never heard a note of Periphery before I bought this album yesterday. I knew that they were billed as leaders in the "djent" movement, and that their first album blew the f--k up. Oh yeah, and apparently people hate the vocalist, Spencer Sotelo. Other than that, I'm going on just this album for a referendum on the sound of Periphery. Basically, they're a progressive metal band, with elements of groove metal, post-hardcore, and electronica. I refuse to call them "djent" mainly because I think the word is f--king stupid and sounds like something a fifth grader would say. I prefer to call Periphery "clusterf--k" metal, as in there's so much going on in each song, it sometimes comes across as one big clusterf--k. I've heard Periphery compared to Protest The Hero, albeit heavier, and I think that's accurate. Both bands use multiple tempo shifts, multiple riff patterns, and singers with dramatic vocal styles. A lot of the songs are very metallic in tone, and yes, they do sometimes sound like a Meshuggah ripoff. However, they do incorporate atmosphere into several songs, be it the strings on "Have A Blast", or the blips on "Muramasa" and "Epoch". Periphery's mastermind, guitarist/producer Misha "Bulb" Mansoor used to produce solo music under the name "Bulb", and he has brought the sometimes more electronic elements of Bulb into Periphery. These guys can write decent riffs, and their drummer is pretty talented. Of course, the bass is almost entirely inaudible. Basically, prog-metal with post-hardcore and electronic elements. By the way, guitar greats Guthrie Govan and John Petrucci contribute guest solos to "Periphery II", as does The Faceless guitarist Wes Hauch. // 8
Lyrics: A lot of the hate directed at Periphery seems to center around vocalist Spencer "Spence" Sotelo. People either complain about his clean vocals, or say that his harsh vocals are too thin. For the record, I like his harsh vocals. Unlike most singers in bands with post-hardcore/metalcore influences, he roars instead of screaming mindlessly, and that makes the lyrics more decipherable. His cleans do get annoying at times, but dude does have range.
With most prog-influenced bands, you would expect fantasy-based or sci-fi lyrics, but with Periphery, you get more realism lyrics. The lyrics on "Periphery II" seem to often revolve around politics or religion, although the song "Mile Zero" is about the death of a loved one. The songs "Muramasa", "Ragnarok", and "Masamune" are named after swords in the "Final Fantasy" gaming series, but there seems to be no clear sci-fi or fantasy lyrics here. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall, this record is decent. The riffs are sometimes genius, other times derivative of Meshuggah. The vocals soar to the heavens or crash to the depths of hell depending on the intensity of the song. The drums are decent, but the bass is barely there. The electronic elements add to some songs, while subtract from others. "Periphery II" is a decent record. // 8