Written by: AP on 06/02/2014 19:31:33

Whilst eagerly anticipating the release of Periphery's third studio album sometime this year, it's comforting to know the band hold their fans in high enough esteem to quench their thirst, at least for the time being, with some new, albeit uncharacteristic music in the form of a mini-album entitled "Clear". The idea, floated to them by Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter, is that each member was given a track to helm, with the rest of the band encouraged to adhere to his vision.

In terms of realising that concept, "Clear" is a huge succes, offering unique insight into each member's personality and musical heritage. Following an instrumental, neo-classically inspired intro in "Overture", guitarist Jake Bowen is the first to flash his tastes in "The Summer Jam"; and if you dug "Scarlet", the odd one out off the group's most recent outing "This Time It's Personal", then this melodic mid-paced affair with a sticky chorus should be right up your alley. In terms of deviating from Periphery's usual histrionics, however, it does little apart from underscoring Bowen's guitar playing talent and love of djent.

Drummer Matt Halpern's "Feed the Ground", to my surprise, emerges as the definitive highlight here, with its sampled percussion bits, classic post-hardcore bass rumble and a stellar vocal performance by Spencer Sotelo - all of which are cut dead in their tracks by a jarring chugdown that would not sound out of place on a Slipknot album. Sotelo himself digs into his electro-infused past with Endor, in the fifth track "Parade of Ashes", which is awash with Nine Inch Nails style industrial tension all the way down to the style of singing; while bassist Adam Getgood and grand wizard Misha Mansoor opt out of vocals altogether on tracks that explore the bombast, percussive romp and gritty aggression of Meshuggah ("Extraneous" and "Zero", respectively) - both lacing their chunky approach with prog stylings in the vein of Steve Vai or Dream Theater nestled between the 'shuggah-eruptions.

Concluding the proceedings is guitarist Mark Holcomb, whose obvious interest in more extreme variants of metal is audible on "Pale Aura", its blast beats and tremolo throwing nods at death metal fury; and not surprisingly Sotelo makes much heavier use of his screaming here than on the other three tracks that feature vocals. And although the allure of the instrumental songs certainly cannot be denied, they have a tendency to not stretch beyond their purpose of flashing an individual talent; and once "Pale Aura" song fades out in grand manner, one is left with the conviction that Periphery would be a much lesser band without Sotelo, whose breadth and knack for injecting an unforgettable hook are on prominent display on the standout trio "Feed the Ground", "The Parade of Ashes" and "Pale Aura".

Songs such as these actually have the opposite effect (and perhaps this was Periphery's intention) than what I postulated in the preamble: these three songs, and to some extent "The Summer Jam" as well, are so good they do nothing to quench my thirst, rather increasing its urgency instead. Given Periphery's eclecticism, virtually any of these songs could have been fused into the forthcoming full-length, and the fact that they weren't, suggests to me there could be something special brewing for that effort.

Download: Feed the Ground, The Parade of Ashes, Pale Aura
For the fans of: Animals As Leaders, Intervals, Protest the Hero
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.01.2014
Sumerian Records

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