Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre by PeripheryRelease date: March 10, 2023
Label: 3DOT Recordings
Periphery return with an opus forged during the pandemic and fermented with dedication to make something that didn’t merely re-tread old ground but met the increasingly high standards they set for themselves. It’s been a while since 2019’s Periphery IV: HAIL STAN and the world hasn’t been the same since. Faced with barriers and logistical obstacles presented by COVID the band has gone to great lengths to develop music they are not only proud to release but exceeds expectations for what they could produce. As a fan I was excited for new material and being a musician walled in by the same COVID related problems I was intrigued as to how this instalment would reflect those times. What follows is by no means a comprehensive breakdown, but a personal reflection and appreciation for the absolute rollercoaster that the band have produced.
‘Wildfire’ kicks the door down and goes harder than it has any business doing so early in the piece. It’s as if the band wants to remind the listener of all the high points from albums that preceded this one with call backs and familiar stank-face inducing moments. I won’t try to explain the jazz interlude and how much of a mood it is. Suffice to say it’s a welcome break and somehow only enhances the energy established across the chaotic 7 minutes. ‘Atropos’ is a rhythmic juggernaut laying below Spencer’s impeccable vocal performance which really showcases his cleans and matured tonal range. The song features some ludicrous chugging and punishing odd metres and blasts of fury but overall there’s a sense of sensibility to it.
‘Wax Wings’ is more of this new tempered and measured Periphery. Not softened or any less intricate but rather there’s restraint and a stronger focus on song writing which perhaps had to fight against technical proficiency on earlier records. The focus on melody and hooks is not wasted however when the arrangement opens up for the musicians to shine…they surely take it. Guitar teachers worldwide, I send my sympathies.
‘Everything is Fine’ is perhaps a statement of irony. The song’s delivery suggests perhaps everything is in fact not fine and indeed the intensity and jarring discordant riffs set the scene. If fans begin to doubt Periphery’s dedication to their brutal progressive roots, this track will sate them. (read as: clear the furniture before playing this loud at home). ‘Silhouette’ is a curve ball. No spoilers. Can’t wait to read threads dedicated to this one.
‘Dracul Gras’ opens like a Meshuggah track. Whilst that means exactly what it sounds like, in true Periphery fashion they don’t overstay any one idea before branching out. It’s impressive to say the least that Periphery can go so dark and chaotic whilst retaining melody and emotion. This track is most reminiscent of material from the Alpha/Omega era in an epic scale and it will receive many replays to fully digest.
‘Thanks Nobou’, this is an anthemic ride that closes out proceedings and held my attention fully throughout the 11+minutes. The initial 5 minutes follow suit with what has come before (read: much periphery, many riff, such vocals etc) it’s when the song takes a breath to regroup and build back up that anticipation truly builds for how they’ll resolve matters. Instead of a jazzy saxophone or piano movement this time we’re treated to keys, reverse gated guitars and an ambient passage that took me to another galaxy. If this isn’t evidence of the band’s evolution and growth I don’t know what is. It is simply stunning. I encourage you to take the ride for yourself.
In conclusion, the songs aren’t short. They twist, weave and traverse some really weird and unexpected terrain. Even if they attempted a straight line..it wouldn’t stay that way for long. The band implements some palette cleansing interludes between songs and this really helps to give through-listeners an audible break and rest from the many highlights and ‘did you hear that?!’ moments. Spencer’s vocals are peaking on Djent is Not a Genre with his soaring range on display throughout every track. It’s an instantly recognisable tone and style but he has never sounded better. Misha and Co. never falter in the precision of chugs and licks, the solos and textured melodic layers woven throughout. The showmanship is still present as on previous releases but is now better balanced as a more cohesive unit serving the song as compared to younger Periphery offerings which just pushed the envelope. This might be the crowning moment for the band who helped coin the term “Djent” and now rebuke its labelling as a genre. Call it what you will.