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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Review: Periphery - III: Select Difficulty

It has been just over a year since the ‘album of the year’ contestant ‘Juggernaut’ by the progressive metal band Periphery. To be honest I’m a bit biased to start with on this album. I’ve been a Periphery fan since day one and got a little background on the Bulb project. That is why I proudly present to you, my review for ‘Select Difficulty’.

Let’s start off with the one and only negative comment on this whole album. There is but one song that I do not like as much as the rest and that is the first single they released to promote the album called ‘The Price Is Wrong’. It did feel a bit like they were overdoing it on the vocals and djenty parts. Just to try top lease the crowd. When I heard the rest of the album this single proved to be a minor addition to its full glory. ‘The Price Is Wrong’ is clearly a part of the bigger picture that is ‘Select Difficulty’. This is where I draw the line with my complaints because this is it. This is just it. I’m only going to give y’all the good news following this statement! That’s the way the news goes! (cheesy song title joke, I’m sorry)

The follower up is a song called ‘Motormouth’. To be honest I expected full on Metallica style riffing but boy, was I wrong! Groovy to the max. I guarantee you’ll be nodding your head in approval in no time. Still a lot of continued screaming from the album starter but it flows well into the cleans like it's supposed to.

Next up is the killer song called ‘Marigold’. It makes clear that the electronics from Juggernaut are replaced by orchestral maneuvers created by one of the creative masterminds of Periphery, the guitar hero himself, Misha Mansoor. The orchestra flows well together with the aggressive picking of the same guitar riff. The melody line in the chorus deserves the most credit though. If there is one member in Periphery that did the best job on the album it’s definitely Spencer Sotelo, the vocalist. Marigold in particular mixes pop voice with an aggressive voice in a way that it transitions very nicely into each other.

We’ve reached the part what the bad joke earlier was about. ‘The Way The News Goes’. In my opinion one of the most inventive songs on the album. Once I heard the chorus I was instantly on the back of my feet and yelled “HAPPY BLACK METAL? Only Periphery pulls this off. The blast beats in this chorus are like ten times faster than you can say double bass. Guitar wise this a song that is clearly composed by my favorite (and heavily underrated) guitarist in the band. Mark Holcomb. Mark is also one of the masterminds behind Haunted Shores, which has more black metal elements so the black metal chorus didn’t come out of nowhere. One more thing I have to mention about the song is the ‘Michael Jackson’ moment. Spencer did a well-played ‘Jackson sound’ to start a killer riff. The only band I have ever seen pulling a Michael Jackson and that was Monuments’ vocalist Chris Baretto and he nailed it as well. I think we’re on to something guys!

Remain Indoors is the punchiest song on the album and has the nicest groove ever. Great job by Spencer again. Man, I can’t praise this guy enough for every note that falls out of his mouth.

Look, to keep your interest in this review I will not go in-depth to a lot more songs but 2 of the most unlikely Periphery songs. The first one is definitely the one song that surprised me the very most. This song is called ‘Catch Fire’. It made me think of a Red Hot Chili Peppers song at the very first moment I listened to it. It is probably the groove of the bass but it has a very lively vibe to it and a high sing-a-long value. The vocal delivery is at the very least a statement. I’m Spencer and I put my heart and soul into Periphery lyrics and melodies. This is a fuck you to every elitist on the planet. I’ve learned to respect music by bands that go out of their book once in a while and write a song that is so good but so poppy you think you’re not supposed to like it because you’re a self-proclaimed metal head. Just let ‘Catch Fire’ sink in. Take my word for it. Let go of your metal head standards and appreciate instead of listening.

The last song on my list is ‘Lune’ which is also the last song on the album.

‘Lune’ is the definition of emotional music. A very well thought out song with maybe (for some people) too cheesy, love letter-y lyrics. But the vocal layering and the support of the orchestra and guitars are mind-blowing to say the least.

This almost perfect album is finished off by a mix/master job that any music producer should be proud of. It’s going to be hard to choose this year for album of the year but this one will definitely be on top of the chart.

I would like to thank Periphery for the many hours of playing this album over and over and for more hours and days to come.


Written by Joost van der Leij

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