Written by: BL on 13/08/2010 22:53:06

Periphery's self titled album has been in the works for quite some while now, with almost all the tracks on the album pre-existing as demos recorded by the group's almost talismanic guitar magician Misha "Bulb" Mansoor. Despite there not being a whole lot of new songs on this debut album by this six piece technical and progressive metal band, the fact that the album got continously delayed, constant changing of recording vocalists and whatnot, it's quite rewarding to finally hear the finished product after such a long wait. The question remains however, was it worth the massive wait? It's important to note first and foremost that this album is a behemoth in terms of playtime. Clocking at one hour and twenty minutes is a long time spread across twelve tracks, so one needs to be prepared before undertaking a run through from start to finish.

Sporting three guitarists, Periphery wear their influences on their sleeves and it's pretty apparent just how much Meshuggah inspiration exists in these songs. "Insomnia" and in particular the blistering "The Walk" spares no easy introduction to the way Periphery goes about their business with hyper-complex guitar riffs, off tempo beats, fast Messhuggah chugging and spacey leads. Being the starters they actually seem slightly weaker compared to the rest of the pack since they offer the least variation in sound. As such "Letter Experiment" is the first song to really take off with a truely masterful combination of dissonant and groove based riffs with clever melodic leads. Not to mention a more dynamic song structure infused with touches of electronics. "Jetpacks Was Yes!" following on from that is my one of my personal favourites just because it has a huge emphasis on serene clean guitar parts, a sweet solo, some catchy vocals (more on those later) and a glistening sound akin to floating on water. The focus on melody is really where Periphery make departures from Meshuggah and actually start to resemble the one man band Animals As Leaders more. Both "Light" and "All New Materials" continue the trend with more memorable melodic licks throughout.

The second half of the album takes their progressive approach further with songs beginning to really open up, more experimental, almost playful instrumental wizardry - the tapped leads in "Buttersnips", "Icarus Lives!"'s groove riff barrages, and the really mind bending early guitars in "Totala Mad" that preceeds an exotic middle section. "Ow My Feelings" brings the clean guitars back with simple but gorgeous combinations of heavy and soft layers that I keep coming back to (particularly in the last third). "Zyglox" is the heaviest track with blast beats, more death metal-like dissonant influences, and some unbelievable harmonised guitar leads. Finally we come to the fifteen minute marathon that is "Racecar" - taking everything that has come before and putting it all into one final monster of a track featuring some quality guest guitar work from Jeff Loomis of Nevermore. It's a real cracker of a song and maintains your attention at all times despite the long length.

By now you might have guessed that Periphery is indeed an instrumental orientated album (you can even get a version without the vocals). What I have not yet mentioned though is that part of this is because the band's current vocalist, Spencer Sotelo, is somewhat of a mixed bag throughout. He can sing and hold some very long notes, that's for sure, but his voice at times lacks depth and so can come across as whiny occasionally. Another problem is that his harsh vocals don't really make a great fit for Periphery's sound because they again lack depth and power, during the heavier sections they end up sounding weak while in others they sound out of place. Despite complementing the music at various places, he took the most time for me to get accustomed to in this album which ultimately is a bit of a shame. Having said all that, Periphery is still a great self titled debut record and there is still plenty of untapped potential in the band to come (considering that Bulb wrote most of the songs on his own, and not with the band). The vocals may not be to every listener's liking, but given the quality the vehicle it rides on that is the technical guitar and drum riffs and the mesmerising lead guitars, it's a lot easier to forgive in this case.

Download: Letter Experiment, Jetpacks Was Yes!, Ow My Feelings, Racecar
For the fans of: Tesseract, Meshuggah, Animals As Leaders
Listen: Myspace

Release date 20.04.2010
Sumerian Records

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