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Album Review :: Periphery: This Time It’s Personal

A moving record for the thinker metalhead

Periphery to me means freedom. They possess the virtuosity to explore uncommon rhythms, melodies, and emotions. Everything from the vaguest darkness to soaring wishful hope and right into the most intimate realizations can be found in their work, sometimes all in one song – in that order! This album has songs like Ji and Luck As a Constant which have long sections of clean guitar atmospherics or falsetto vocals, quickly followed by crushing heavy bits.

Erised (the tenth track) uses microtonal synths to back a guitar solo! It really makes me wonder if this really is just metal! To me metal just happens to be the source of the intensity in their music, rather than the genre. They use it as a medium, but they are not confined by it, they have the absolute freedom to bend it to their will and use it to create something more than metal. If Periphery were any better at their job I imagine my Sennheisers coming alive, strangling me to death and then taking my soul on a joyride through the universe!

This album has a much more variety than the first, with the whole band contributing to things, rather than mainly Misha. There’s some very heavy stuff in there like Masamune, which doesn’t stray very far from one emotion. Then there’s Have a Blast, which for some reason makes picture the Joker beating Batman to death and laughing his head off, and then (at 2:27) Batman gets up again and saves Gotham. You’re definitely in for continental buffet if you buy this album! 

I noticed some interesting things. Firstly the bass has a very distinct space, it growls away clearly underneath even the heaviest guitar rhythms. Definitely an album you have to listen to if you want to know about great metal production. Another spectacular improvement is seen in Spencer. With this album, he has metamorphosed into a shape shifting fire breathing dragon of a vocalist, delivering all kinds of growls, and technique that has much less to do with sheer range and more with finesse. Guthrie Govan’s solo on Have a Blast is awesome, as was Wes Hauch’s solo on Mile Zero. John Petrucci’s solo on Erised is my favorite of the guest solos though. 

In Conclusion

No Yanni fan would say what I’m about to say but Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal moves me exactly the way Yanni moves me. Exploring virtuosity without virtuosity being the point; bringing eclectic and intense emotions together delicately. Only people who appreciate both could agree with me, and that’s rare. But you know what, this album will teach any metalhead that there’s more to music than being heavy. It can’t teach anything to people who aren’t into metal, and that is where I feel privileged. This album is a gift to people like me. I love so many kinds of music, I’ve kept my mind open and this is a reward for that. 

If you’re new to Periphery, listen to Scarlet and Have a Blast first. The rest will follow! Enjoy!

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