Juggernaut: Alpha review by Periphery

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  • Released: Jan 27, 2015
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.9 (77 votes)
Periphery: Juggernaut: Alpha
4

Sound — 9
Periphery began as a solo recording project by multi-instrumentalist, Misha Mansoor, who initially shared his music online on sevenstring.org and other forums. This eventually led to a good deal of success, and resulted in Misha recruiting a full band to back him. While the lineup was initially very shaky, it has stayed fairly stable since the band's first release in 2010. Since that time only Mark Holcomb and Nolly Getgood have been added. Misha Mansoor is, of course, the only remaining founding member. "Juggernaut: Alpha" is the first half of their third album, which will be a double album. The second half, "Juggernaut: Omega," will still be released at the end of the month. There are 10 tracks included on the album with a runtime of approximately 41 minutes. While there haven't been any singles released ahead of time for the album, the band has played a few of the songs live. 

The album opens with the track "A Black Minute," which takes its time building up a particular type of vibe and the vocals never get very heavy on this song. The guitar part isn't overly complicated on this one, either, and not particularly "djent," but it was a very enjoyable track. "MK Ultra" has a lot of little atonal, chaotic guitar fills (like what I tend to connect specifically to iwrestledabearonce in my mind). There is a lot of vocal diversity and intensity in "MK Ultra," and then the song ends with some kind of easy listening jazz/elevator music outro. "Heavy Heart" has one of the more traditional types of heavy openings, with some arpeggios accompanying the verses and a few of my favorite solos from the album - it is almost bluesy. "The Event" is a very short track at under 2 minutes, and is mostly a repetitive tremolo picked guitar part and a slow drum and bass part, but there is a very epic feel to it that gets under my skin (I'm just not sure if it is in a good or a bad way. "The Scourge" seems to get heavier as the song moves forward, until it is quite heavy, then has a quiet section that slowly builds back up in intensity. The title track, "Alpha," reminded me a little bit of Owl City in the very beginning of the intro, but Periphery got around to it pretty quick and switched gears back to some solid heavy music. There were a few times on this track where the vocals sounded a little too polished, but mostly I stayed impressed. "22 Faces" has an almost punk feeling to it, but it is something in the feeling alone - in sound it is very much "djent" and one of my favorite progressive metal songs from the album. "Rainbow Gravity" has a down-tuned -core thing going on for the verses with clean choruses. It is definitely a listenable track, but I'm glad the entire album isn't like this or I could get tired of it really quick. "Four Lights" has a lot of groove and heaviness to it, and is completely instrumental - it is a fun track (it has a passage almost like carnival music going on). The album closes out with the track "Psychosphere," which is a really epic type of track with a lot going on. I can't wait to hear "Juggernaut: Omega."

Lyrics — 8
Spencer Sotelo currently provides vocals for Periphery, and I have to say I prefer him to their previous vocalists - he has a good clean singing voice as well as a strong screaming voice. Mark Holcomb provides backing vocals as well as his rhythm guitar duties, and it is used sparingly and to great effect. Spencer's clean vocals are a little bit generic, but his screamed vocals have a lot of character. I definitely can find a lot to appreciate with the vocals on "Juggernaut: Alpha." The only gripe I have is the way the vocal processing is handled, like on the track "Heavy Heart" they briefly use an almost stutter effect momentarily, which I most strongly associate with modern pop music. 

As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some lyrics from the song, "The Scourge": "As I sit with eyes heavy omens clear/ Face down in seclusion the evil steer/ what drives the stake within my heart/ this man he fell apart/ now that the entrance is open wide/ this black all around makes its way inside/ what have you done? Will hate abide? / where is my death invitation? Elation? / Dead glimpse lurking beneath this prison, I/ I give my life for a taste of, taste of/ what lies beyond the dead place now/ fire burns rising beneath these sins in time/ I leave my life for the void." Initially I thought the lyrics were very depressive, but the more I listened I think they are meant to be more existential. They fit well with the music and atmosphere.

Overall Impression — 8
I've been listening to the album since it started streaming a few days ago - I've listened to it sitting back in my den, and I've listened to it laying down to go to sleep and listened to it while driving around town. I feel like this is an extremely versatile album - especially for the genre. This is something that Periphery has always been good at - creating a myriad collection of sounds and vibes on their albums. There are definitely some moments where the playing and musicianship blew me away, but more importantly, the album was consistently "musical" and the songs were well-crafted. I don't know if I have a favorite track, but if I had to name a song, then I would go with "MK Ultra" because I like the versatility of the vocals on the track, and also the guitar fills. I was also very fond of "22 Faces" for the overall feeling of the track. I'm looking forward to the next half of this double album.

48 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Dnouw
    Haters will hate, but both albums are fantastic and have great depth.
    RaiviK
    Well, I am glad that these albums got that dark vibe. Really diggin' them so far) P.S. This bass sounds huge though.
    EpiExplorer
    >Dark vibe >'Alpha' is unapologetic pop song. Is 'flaccid metal' a thing? Cuz this would be an example of it.
    vertexjuggler
    Are you high on crack? Do you know what a pop song sounds like because the last time I listened to the radio no pop song I've ever heard of sounds like Periphery.
    EpiExplorer
    Jeez, when did the regulars disappear. You might just be the new vppark, vertexbro.
    vppark2
    Oh come on now, I dont even like Periphery as much as I used to. When was the last time we even had a conversation on here? 2 years ago? My musical taste has changed a bit since then.
    Legend Jedicsc
    Epi is just that butthurt dude who goes around posting shit on anything he doesn't like because he thinks his view on music is objective. The sad thing is he's been at it for years. You'd think he'd grow out of this phase of having to post shit comments on everything he hates 24/7
    vertexjuggler
    Cue the oh this band are not metulz any more, they are pop metal blah blah blah. Also WTF is pop metal? Im sure that's a bloody oxy moron, just because every track isnt filled with screams. I've listened to the albums and think they are really good and you see see the progression of this band through each release. And as the band stated this album had equal input from each member until like the first 2 albums which was basically made up of all of Mishas material.
    sewoo55
    I'm not saying that this album is pop metal or anything but pop metal isn't necessarily a bad thing. Devin Townsend's Addicted! is pop metal and it's awesome
    fetus989
    Listening to it now. Was never really a fan of this band, but this is one of the best metal albums I've listened to in a while.
    maximumrocker
    I am in the same boat as you man. Was not a fan. But these two albums are really something else! Great stuff. Bought my tix to see them in Feb
    JSmith38
    They put on a great show. I have had the pleasure of seeing them twice.
    JSmith38
    Will never understand the hate on Periphery. Great musicians making great music. Had the opportunity to meet Spencer the first time I saw them and Misha the second. Both were super cool.
    travislausch
    I think the "Djent" terminology being popularized by them mixed with Spencer's love-them-or-hate-them vocals are a big reason. Not me, I happen to love Spencer's voice. And the title track has the most amazing riff I'm likely to hear this year (actual bullshit because of all the other amazing bands releasing records this year, bur it is an amazing riff nonetheless!).
    JSmith38
    The first time I heard Make Total Destroy it took me completely by surprise. I bought P2 the next day. Found P1 and Icarus EP shortly after. All of it is solid. And Spencer gets a lot of love but Matt Halpern is an amazing drummer. They are all super talented dudes.
    nmnmnm25
    just cause anything that gets somewhat popular is automatically terrible...its not "cool" unless you pretend to like a band no one has ever heard of so you can recommend them even though they suck
    theogonia777
    That's interesting. I was just about to say that I will never understand the appeal of Periphery.
    guntonadam
    Really don't like his voice...
    TheInserter
    I have to admit that his range is very diverse and he achieves heights most singers in metal dare not dream of. On the other hand can fully understand why people don't like his voice, and in a way I respect it. It is an acquired taste for sure
    theblazinasian
    While I like Spencer's voice, he was never my favorite part of Periphery. I can understand why people don't like his voice. But honestly, he makes these records for me.
    agm_ultimatex
    I actually really like both albums. I come more from a prog background of listening to Dreamtheater, and more classic rock like Joe Satriani. As I got into heavier stuff like BTBAM, Periphery & Tesseract became natural listens for me. So this album brings in a lot of elements I like. A co-worker of mine likes similar bands, but doesnt care for Priestest off of Omega. I love it.
    a drummer
    I really enjoy it. Job well done Periphery. While, i prefer Omega over Alpha, both have great songs. Especially 22 faces
    siamesedream777
    Im still blown aaway by Periphery II, im really excited by the Juggernauts album these guys are flawless i ont understand how some ignorants calle them pop metal or downtuned screamo, geezz these guys are far away from all those screamo and posthardcore bands and even from most metal acts nowadays.
    Erowz
    After listening to both albums around 7 times, i think it is a bit downfall from P2.. except 4 tracks and a 10 second riff from "The Bad Thing" that i really really liked, the rest feels forced and unnecessary.. a bummer for me, i was really looking forward to this one.
    The Spoon
    I like how cohesive the album is and when you step back and look at the rise and fall of intensity throughout the album as a whole, it is super dynamic. The organization and composition was planned out really well in that regard. I just can't listen to many of the individual tracks, because on their own I just don't enjoy them that much. MK Ultra, Heavy Heart, 22 Faces, and Psychosphere are probably the only ones, which is kinda disappointing. Omega is much better to me because it sounds great together and apart. This was a massive undertaking on Periphery's part and while i'm mildly disappointed overall, I have to commend them for doing as good a job as they did. I just have no desire to go back and listen anymore.
    Pukka-VCU
    I'm no super fan, but I do really dig Periphery. This was a solid couple albums, definitely agree with what Stalk027 said, Omega hooked me right away. Alpha was great too though. These guys have quickly built up quite the body of work.
    ColdHeartedHero
    Cant wait to get my order in the mail, its been a long time since I havent streamed or torrented an album early, so im pretty pumped to sit down and listen to it when it arrives. I really enjoyed 22 Faces and Alpha.
    TheInserter
    I'm glad Misha and the lads put an efford in their solo's. It brings a refreshing atmosphere to the sound. Great albums.
    Morphogenesis26
    This is like 2008 Escape The Fate and SLipknot had a baby. ew.
    siamesedream777
    The exit door is right behind you, please stop embarrasing yourself frm posting these stupid, useless and ignorant comments. Thanks a lot.
    Morphogenesis26
    I mean, it does doesn't it? Really scene-sounding vocals and nu-metal style chugging, neither of which I like. If you can't handle someone having a different opinion from you then why are you even on the internet?
    Stalk027
    I only listened to Alpha's and Omega's streams once, so I might not be objective enough to judge them, but I really liked Omega from the first song. Maybe Alpha will grow on me as I will listen to it more and more. But the overall impression is that they wanted to create an album so epic they got confused and complexified way too much certain riffs and licks. But hey, it's my very humble opinion.