Versatility is built into the Periphery mission statement. The only thing you know for certain when listening to a new release from the band is that they will continue to push the boundaries of progressive metalcore. From breakbeat and synth to tempestuous drum patterns and riffs that twist and wind like the corkscrew at Laguna Seca – Periphery IV delivers on all fronts.
Making a song longer than 15 minutes that is not a drag is a monumental task for a band to accomplish, especially when it’s the album opener. ‘Reptile’ however, manages to stay instrumentally and lyrically tight, and kick the album into life. The album is structured to frontload all its heaviest moments, and there is very little heavier than ‘Blood Eagle’. A downtuned djent assault, Spencer digs deep into his screaming repertoire for one of the most imprinting and haunting metal tracks of the year, if not ever.
The aggression remains for ‘CHVRCH BURNER’, which transitions into a techno-infused synth outro which merges into the opening riff of ‘Garden in the Bones’. From ‘Garden in the Bones’ onwards, the album shifts towards a more measured approach, incorporating more electronic and prog-rock elements. Spencer is arguably at his best with soaring clean highs on ‘Sentient Glow’. ‘Satellites’, with the deep growls used more sparingly, preferring to go from singing to a strained shout without dropping down. The production quality of the record makes it sounds marvellous.
The album is structured to frontload all its heaviest moments
The mixing is consistently excellent throughout. The vocals never get lost, no matter how complicated the guitar work and drums, but all of the technical ability is still very much there to see. Every electronic addition has purpose and helps to drive the album forward. From ‘Garden in the Bones’ to the closer ‘Satellite’, this is one of the most forward-thinking rock albums of the decade.
Catchy, technical, explosive in controlled bursts and reflective outwith that, all without even delving into the lyrical themes underlying the album. Accessible to people whose only exposure to rock and metal may be Blink, Foo Fighters, Muse or Metallica – but uncompromising in its vision and execution. A tantalising introduction to the genres and ideas it encompasses for those who want to dive deeper – for those who don’t, a glistening synopsis. A true album of the year contender, and one everyone should hear this year.
Key tracks: All of them. If you are new to the genre, however, I’d recommend starting the album at ‘Garden in the Bones’, then going back to the first few tracks after you reach the end and are a bit more used to the style.