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Periphery - Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre

Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre
by David Hough at 14 March 2023, 4:11 AM

Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre” is the seventh full-length album from the Washington DC progressive metal band, PERIPHERY. When their first album debuted, PERIPHERY was quickly lumped in with the burgeoning djent tradition. Djent is an onomatopoeia for the trademark guitar sound pioneered by the band, MESHUGGAH. Throughout its eighteen-year tenure, PERIPHERY has proven that its sound is much more complex than the assigned label of “djent.”

Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre” begins with “Wildfire.” This track gets off to an aggressive start with lots of screaming and bouncing guitar chords. Shortly thereafter, Sotelo starts using his super saccharine clean vocals, which fit the song well. After the second chorus, the track takes a detour to a jazzy jam session followed by piano and saxophone solos. When the song reverts to progressive metal for the third chorus, I was left wondering if that skillful jazz interlude was necessary at all. Every time I listened to “Wildfire” while preparing this review, that particular element threw me for a loop. I’m all for tangents in metal songs, but this one just felt too self-aggrandizing for me to get behind. However, I do love the chorus.

In the case of “Wax Wings,” the third track, I found the piano parts welcome and not at all from out of left field. That’s the main issue that I take with “Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre.” Every song meanders off the beaten path several times. Sometimes the detour serves to enhance the song in some major way. Other times it just feels like PERIPHERY is making you endure an “eclectic” part while you wait for the song to play the next good part. That being said, “Wax Wings” is one of the album’s better tracks. The talent on display is a testament to the band’s longevity.

The following track, “Everything Is Fine!,” is the most aggressive track on the album. There are plenty of screams with enough clean vocals to balance the song. It even felt like THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN had taken over during a couple of parts. This track is PERIPHERY doing exactly what they do best. There weren’t any unnecessary deviations from the song proper.

The fifth track, “Silhouette,” is a synth-pop song. There are clean vocals throughout and it is well-performed. I found the lyrics to be uninspired and the song as a whole sounds like it belongs on a different album. The fact that they chose the most laid-back song to follow the album’s most raw and fierce track further alienates “Silhouette.” Again, I’m torn. This is a fine song, but when compared with the album’s other eight tracks, it feels like another branching path that leads nowhere.

Zagreus” is named after the protagonist of the popular video game, “Hades” and deals with the same subject matter. This track is lots of fun with its subtle hardcore punk elements and all-around progressive metal greatness. There are also several technical elements thrown in for good measure. “Zagreus” remains fierce and keeps the intensity going for seven of its eight minutes. The final minute features a piano passage that quickly turns into what sounds like a climactic moment in a movie score. After that, the song ends, owing the listener an explanation.

Dracul Gras” has an intense beginning and middle filled with amazing vocals and a technical lead guitar solo. This song gives the listener a taste of the varying levels of aggression that progressive metal has to offer. The first two-thirds of this track are excellent. The last third devolves into a mess of synthesizer cliches and a short synth-pop tune. There are eight minutes of unadulterated brilliance in this twelve-minute song. Unfortunately, the same holds true for most of the final track, “Thanks Nobuo.”

Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre” is an album in dire need of an editor. It is nearly equal parts amazing and confusing. The amazing just barely edges out the questionable songwriting decisions. I’m not sure if the high points are worth the tedium of the lesser elements. This album is PERIPHERY at their most PERIPHERY and their diehard fans will adore “Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre.” I, however, found this album to be too much of a mixed bag.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Wildfire
2. Atropos
3. Wax Wings
4. Everything Is Fine!
5. Silhouette
6. Dying Star
7. Zagreus
8. Dracul Gras
9. Thanks Nobuo
Spencer Sotelo - Lead Vocals
Misha Mansoor - Guitar, Programming, Synthesizers, Orchestration
Jake Bowen  - Guitar, Programming, Backing Vocals
Mark Holcomb - Guitar
Matt Halpern - Drums
Adam Getgood - Bass, Production
Jørgen Munkeby - Saxophone
Record Label: 3DOT Recordings


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