Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre [Album Review]

Periphery is one of what I would consider the “new wave” of metal bands that I’ve had a close eye on for quite a while. That sounds odd… to call them part of a “new wave” when they’ve been around for over 10 years putting out great records but with metal credibility is slowly earned… hell, Lamb of God are probably STILL part of the “new wave” of metal bands for a lot of fans.

If you pay attention to modern metal at all you have no doubt already heard the first track Wildfire. It is the lead single from Periphery V and has already gotten a considerable amount of attention and deservedly so. The brutal heaviness of the opening coupled with the long drawn out jazz interlude and complex chorus is impossible to ignore if you love heavy music.

Track 2, Atropos is the 3rd single and the band just recently released a video behind it. The song churns like a locomotive before opening up into a big beautiful chorus. The breakdowns are built around intricate arpeggios that dance around the vocal melodies.

In the third song Wax Wings the band takes its foot off the gas for a moment and does something a bit more self-reflective. It opens with a riff that I would describe as “scattered.” As scattered as a riff by a band as precise as Periphery can be anyway. The song relies primarily on Spencer’s clean and melodic vocal parts and there is not any heavy screaming.

Everything is Fine returns to the skull pounding heaviness you love to hear from the band. The main riff is a whammy pedal lick eerily reminiscent of the Pantera track “Becoming” but in no way derivative. Just the effect itself and the overall heaviness of the track call that to mind. The track ends with Spencer screaming “FUCK YOUR SANCTUARY!!” in one of the heavier moments on the record.

On Silhouette the band takes a big chance and goes full synthwave. I admittedly did not love this track the first couple times I heard it… but after a few listens it feels completely natural and I respect the band for branching out in this way. This song is something you would hear on a Depeche Mode or Owl City record… At no point does it break into any type of heavy guitar, it stays entirely synth throughout. It is definitely not the type of track a Periphery fan is expecting to hear and you have got to love them for that. The track clocks in as the shortest on the album and also sits comfortably right in the center of the tracklist, serving as sort of an “intermission” before the 2nd half begins.

Dying Star takes some of the synth elements from Silhouette and blends in a more guitar rock edge. It’s like the band is kind of easing you back towards the heavier side of the spectrum now. The slow grinding riffs and melodic vocals of the verses slither organically into a big wide open chorus that sparkles like a lake in the morning sun. The track also has these jazzy little breakdowns that add a whole other dimension to it.

Zagreus dives head first back into that brutal yet precise prog thrash that Periphery fans know and love. The soaring chorus and hook sit comfortably between huge slabs of pummeling kick drums and downtuned thrash guitar jack hammers. The solo break in the middle of the track almost sounds like an outtake from a classic Metallica or Megadeth record.

Dracul Gras has probably the most “Djent” style riffing on the album and that’s not a bad thing. The off kilter, snake-like winding riffs that helped make the band popular. There is a big beautiful interlude with a guitar solo that slowly draws the listener back into the fray, blasting them with more intense, rapid fire riffing. The song then ends with a synth piece that strangely resembles one of Aphex Twin’s more downtempo tunes. This is without a doubt one of the stronger tracks on the album… and they are all strong so that’s saying a lot.

The final track Thanks Nobuo kicks off with some very intricate riffing that cranks the “positive energy knob” up to eleven. The chorus “Nothing lasts forever” is also one of the most memorable on the record. Then the song breaks down into a percussive chant that eventually climbs back up to the top of positive energy mountain and jumps off. This song shines as quite possibly one of the most perfect and organic blends of prog and hardcore metal I’ve ever heard. The glitchy breakdowns add a level of detail that makes the song beg for… almost require, repeated listens. A fantastic way to cap off an album.

On their sixth album, Periphery comes off as a band that is completely confident and self-aware. They blend the heaviness of Pantera, the unique timing of Meshuggah, the prog sensibilities of Dream Theater and Rush and just a tiny pinch of the pop tendencies of Linkin Park. Despite these frames of reference, they sound like a band that has fully fleshed out an undeniably heavy and original sound.

Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre is available everywhere this Friday, March 10th 2023.