by Mike Avakian
Djent: some may argue that this is a sub-genre of metal, and some argue that it is simply an onomatopoeia characterized by low guitar tunings, string muting, and heavy syncopation. Well, the progressive metal pioneers, Periphery, are here to set the record straight with their newest full length album – Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre.
Kicking down the door with the first track “Wildfire” – it goes to show you how musically mature and creative this quintet of fine musicians really are. Riff after riff, and chunk after chunk, this song leads its way into an extremely catchy and melodic chorus that makes you just want to sing out at the top of your lungs. Then, out of nowhere, they hit you with an interesting jazz section that should feel out of place, but somehow fits right in and is topped off with a very smooth sax solo by Jørgen Munkeby, frontman to Norwegian based metal band, Shining. The finale of the song is a mighty jump scare of beefy blast beats that are clearly from a planet far, far away. The second single and track “Atropos” continues the frenetic pace while providing one of the album’s best choruses.
The fourth track on the album, “Everything Is Fine!”, is filled with many heavy and bouncy riffs that are accompanied by the use of the famous Digitech Whammy pedal. It almost feels as if there is no time to breathe during this track; the musical stamina is downright impressive to say the least. About halfway through the song, a guitar solo that sounds as if you put Nuno Bettencourt and John Petrucci into a blender and put on full speed, shreds its way right through. What really stands out the most about this song – the last minute is a BRUTAL breakdown that gets heavier, lower, and slower that makes you automatically reveal your meanest stank face.
In the song, “Wax Wings” – everybody’s performance in this song is outstanding, but Spencer Sotelo steals the show with his unbelievable vocal performance. The harsh vocals are so heavy and tight, but the clean vocals and the melodies are what really stand out. Six minutes into the track, Spencer hits a note so powerful and emotional it will make your hair stand on end.
“Silhouette” was the track I was most taken aback by. This is where they really show their abilities as songwriters and that they are willing to jump into any style of music that they choose; and they do it really, really well. This extremely vulnerable and cinematic ballad really resembles bands like The 1975, and leans heavily into synths, 80’s style drums, and beautiful vocal melodies. With lyrics that are so personal and emotional, Spencer shows that he is willing to open his heart to fans and allows us to truly feel.
We are then spoiled with not one, but two epics that are over 11 minutes long. First of them being “Dracul Gras” which translates to “Fat Dracula”. The title checks out; the riffs are fat, the tones are mean, the groove is evil, and guides the listener through a world of incredibly impressive instrumentation and haunting lyrics. The second of the two, “Thanks Nobuo”, starts off with beautiful synth and guitar tones and led by with an incredible drum fill from Matt Halpern. The main riff is catchy and doesn’t seem to end; which really shows the cleverness of the songwriting. About three and a half minutes in, there is a guitar part that hints the likes of Polyphia and then is followed by beautiful choir vocal harmonies. The ending of the song is epic and touching with a lush of beautiful synth pads and dreamy strings.
Periphery have proved to us time after time that they are willing to push the boundaries with their gift to produce a piece of art that is both cohesive and dynamic; and their ability to provide a cinematic vibe crossed with some heavy thrash and shifting time signatures is indeed, untouchable. This album will bring you through a world of many different and well thought out scenes as if you were living inside of a David Fincher film that you wish would never end. Needless to say, Djent Is Not a Genre further cements Periphery as an extremely important and integral part of the progressive metal echelon.
Released on March 10th, 2023
3. Wax Wings
4. Everything is Fine!
6. Dying Star
8. Dracul Gras
9. Thanks Nobuo
Jake Bowen: Guitars, Synths, Programming
Matt Halpern: Drums
Mark Holcomb: Guitars
Misha Mansoor: Guitars, Synths, Orchestration
Spencer Sotelo: Vocals