Besides being a leading light in the fledgling djent/modern prog metal movement, Periphery have also been a bit of a whipping boy for haters (usually for the melodic vocals), kind of the easy band to beat on. I’ve always been a big supporter as they have produced what I feel to be superior music that straddles the fringe and commercial success without any real compromise, which ain’t no easy feat. Their first couple of albums (and the Bulb demos) are still considered highlights of the djent almost-genre, but I think that with Periphery IV: Hail Stan (pre-order a copy here), they have finally proven themselves worthy of joining the greats in the mighty prog metal world.
Easily the most prominent example of this is near-17 minute opening track “Reptile”. It certainly sets the tone and raises the bar to have such a brave statement as an opener, and what could have been an overlong, bloated piece that stays at the party too long and bores the pants off people, is actually so well written and executed that the listener barely feels the longer track time. It swathes light and shade with a bold confidence that I haven’t seen from Periphery before, painting a cohesive and colourful picture of epic proportions. It also sets the tone for the rest of the record, which still retains the über-heavy djent framework whilst adding flavour with classic prog, synth work, jazz melodies, and orchestral wonder.
Periphery continue to raise their own bar.
Of course, this is Periphery and they love their lighter, friendlier moments, for better or worse. I used to balk at these more brazen metalcore outings, but I have come to see that they are there for a good reason - you can’t have darkness without light as a reference, and the band have certainly handled it with maturity and strong song writing skill. “It’s Only Smiles” and “Garden In The Bones” are both openly accessible and radio-worthy, and “Satellites” is almost too saccharine but is so well constructed that it serves the purpose of an album closer that gives hope instead of oppression. The one song on here that might raise an eyebrow or two is “Crush”, which touches on synthwave with an industrial hue - for me, I love this kind of thing as it certainly shows progression and adds a dimension not explored before. It’s brave and quite anthemic in a modern In Flames kinda way, a real crowd pleaser for future shows.
The rest of the record is mostly comprised of tight, meaty, heavy prog buggers like “CHVRCH BVRNER” and “Blood Eagle”, songs that show that Periphery are still forward-thinking and highly talented musicians with ears for a good hook in the midst of prog/shred tornadoes. Overall, it’s expansive and broad without losing focus, both uplifting and gasp-inducing - at just over an hour, they could have easily lost it, but tight songwriting, track selection, and solid production give it both breathing space and scope. It’s quite something to behold.
If Coheed and Cambria and Muse went on a date with Meshuggah and Between The Buried And Me, fell in love, moved in together, opened a joint Facebook account, and then had a baby, it would be 2019 Periphery. Periphery IV: Hail Stan is the work of a mature prog band with tongue firmly in cheek (besides the fantastic album title that will have people tripping over their eyes, the album even ends with someone stating “suck my balls” - these are still the same loveable goofy guys), and I think is easily their best album thus far. Whether or not any of their critics think so, I think the band truly don’t give a damn - this is an artistic statement made as only these guys can. It’s an absolute winner.
Check out the music video for Periphery’s soaring new track, “Blood Eagle”.
Periphery IV: Hail Stan Track Listing:
02. Blood Eagle
03. CHVRCH BVRNER
04. Garden In The Bones
05. It's Only Smiles
06. Follow Your Ghost
08. Sentient Glow
Run Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes, 53 seconds Release Date: April 5, 2019 Record Label: 3DOT Recordings