Periphery – Periphery V: Djent is Not a Genre (Album Review)
Periphery – Periphery V: Djent is Not a Genre
Released: March 10, 2023
Spencer Sotelo // Vocals
Jake Bowen // Guitars
Matt Halpern // Drums
Misha Mansoor // Guitars, programming, synth, orchestration
Mark Holcomb // Guitars
Inventing an entire genre is a hell of a thing. Only a small handful of bands/artists in the entire history of popular music can lay claim to have done so. Djent may not be an entire genre, but it is certainly a sub-genre of progressive metal. Maybe this makes it a sub-sub-genre, since prog metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal (which is unquestionably its own genre now, as opposed to being considered a sub-genre of rock in its formative years).
So inventing a sub-genre (or even a sub-sub-genre) is a pretty damn impressive achievement, and this is one Periphery can claim. Yes, I know the sound can be traced back to Meshuggah, but there was really no name for it until Periphery came along.
Anyway, we’re talking ourselves in circles now, on top of neglecting the far more important question, that is, is the album good? Firstly, I am an unabashedly massive fan of this band. With the magnificence of their output so far, combined with their blistering, chaotic live show, which I’ve seen I think four times now, I consider them among my favourite bands on the planet. I was actually supposed to have this review in on release day, but I’ve held off a couple of days. And I’m glad I did.
My first half-dozen full listens to had me a little worried. Oh, the album is epic, the songs are long and strong, it sounds fantastic and the mood is typically quirky and powerfully exuberant. But I struggled a little to find anything truly memorable here, it wasn’t grabbing me by the bollocks like the new Periphery album has always done in the past. I was finding single and opening track ‘Wildfire’ to be an absolute balltearer that truly lived up to its title, and a few other ripping moments here and there, but little else was truly standing out.
(apologies for the testicular motif in the above paragraph)
I was starting to think that this band may finally be falling foul of the syndrome that affects so many other great, long-running, high-output bands: becoming a victim of their own brilliance, their own creative success. Forget the ‘V’ in the title, this is actually this band’s seventh long player, everything they’ve done up to this point has been superb, and it’s nigh on impossible to maintain such a high standard over a long career.
I was starting to think that, viewed in isolation, this is a very strong album, but viewed as part of their illustrious overall canon, it’s not quite up to their usual lofty standards.
However, over the course of my subsequent half-dozen or so full listens, things changed. The album grew on me. Its unique charms became more apparent. It became memorable to me. The slight haze shrouding the beauty, power and appeal of tracks such as ‘Wax Wings’, ‘Dracul Gras’ and ‘Zagreus’ began to clear, and I began to adore the album.
Sometimes it’s important to give an album more than a few cursory listens before you pass judgment, to give an album time to breath and wend its way into your psyche, time to infiltrate your ears, your heart and the pleasure-related synapses of the brain in a more gradual and insidious fashion.
Ultimately, this is arguably this band’s least instant-gratification oriented release. Just for starters, there’s only one single track under five minutes. The last three tracks alone occupy more than half an hour, almost half the album’s running time (and I love this kind of musical length of course). There’s a little less in the way of catchy hooks this time around, and a touch more experimentation with other genres (jazz, electronica, pop, RnB, ambient, orchestral – the outro of ‘Zagreus’ is dramatically powerful and sounds like something from a movie soundtrack – and they manage to throw all of these things into the melting pot of the album subtly, seamlessly, convincingly and without spoiling the album’s flow – even the pure ambient pop of ‘Silhouette’ sits beautifully and cohesively in its mid-album position). But, if you let it in and give it time, it will fill you and stay with you.
Sometimes instant gratification is not important (yes, even in this day and age of plastic mainstream music, playlists and goldfish-level attention spans). Quality and creativity is. And this band has both in spades.
I don’t think this is this band’s greatest ever release (that title remains with the second album, in this humble writer’s opinion), but when you have a long-running and creatively bountiful career, releasing your best album every single time is virtually impossible. All you can hope to do is maintain consistently high standards. Some bands do, and some do not. Periphery falls fairly and squarely in the former category.
I’m certain this album will feature heavily in many top albums of 2023 lists, including my own. Djent is Not a Genre is another killer release in this band’s esteemed career.
Periphery – Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre
- Wax Wings
- Everything Is Fine!
- Dying Star
- Dracul Gras
- Thanks Nobuo.
Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre is out now. Get it here
Review By – Rod Whitfield
Chip in a buck or two for the WoS crew!
Want to help Wall of Sound grow and deliver more killer content? Support us by chipping in as little as a dollar to help!