Sound — 10
"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.
Lyrics — 10
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.
Overall Impression — 10
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!