Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal is the highly anticipated follow up to the band’s self titled debut from 2010. The Washington D.C. based progressive metal outfit hit the scene in 2008 after spending three years carefully crafting their sound and assembling a cast of characters capable of performing at the group’s demanding level of musical endeavor. If nothing else, the band’s numerous lineup changes show an utter lack of complacency when it comes to their work. In fact, one would be remiss to not point out the fact that their debut album was written before current lead singer Spencer Sotelo joined the band; making Periphery II the first release where cornerstone players like Sotelo, Misha Mansoor, Jake Bowen and Matt Halpern found themselves in a position to make an album that could best demonstrate their collective promise.
To say that I’ve been looking forward to this release would be selling it short. After the hard hitting energy and exemplary level of craftsmanship that Periphery brought to bare on the first go around, I came into this album with huge expectations for what could be after they had spent another two years touring, writing, and collectively improving in every aspect of what they do. And that my friends leads us to Periphery II. If you only walk away with one piece of insight from this entire review, let this be it: This album is an epic. Each track is a testament to exceptional strides that the band has made in turning their sound into one of the most unique and enthralling ones in the metal scene.
Periphery II shows depth and ambition early on. Tracks like Muramasa, Have A Blast and Facepalm Mute excel in not only realizing just how heavy this band can bring it, but also display a sincere commitment that they have made to rooting themselves in progressive elements that go far beyond the call of comparable metalcore acts. One element of this album that shouldn’t go undervalued is just how elaborately diverse the record as a whole is. Despite the use of tried and trusted lyrical themes throughout, every element of each track feels incredibly fresh and unpredictable. Make no mistake, no one will accuse Periphery of ripping off their previous work.
Songs like Luck As A Constant, Ragnarok and Froggin’ Bullfish are truly worthy of being held in a high esteem for deftly walking the tightrope of form and function. Aesthetically breathtaking and backbreaking in their might; you’ll likely wish that they clocked in at longer than six minutes a piece on average. Add in the marvelous anthem of Make Total Destroy for the first single, the creative gem that is Erised (featuring a masterful closing guitar solo from John Petrucci of Dream Theater) and many other great tracks and you get an album that fans of the metal scene at large will be talking about with great zeal for the rest of the year. So hats off to Periphery for doing something which very few acts seem capable of: winning my loyal support on a sophomore release. Nothing like watching a vastly talented and exciting band on the rise.
Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal (Album Title of the Year), comes out in the U.S. today (July 3rd) and is well worth checking out if you’re a progressive metal fan or are just in need of something new to rock out to at max volume.