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Periphery: Live In London

Formed back in 2005, Periphery are one of the leading proponents of the genre known as djent, a style of progressive metal based on propulsive grooves and distorted, low-end palm muted guitar sound. Whilst Meshuggah are usually cited as the founders of this style, in my view Periphery have more in common with now-defunct Dutch outfit Textures, in that they blend djent and other more traditional progressive metal styles with elements of metalcore; in Periphery’s case, the metalcore elements being largely in the more commercial, US style. It seems to have served the band well, with a successful career which has seen them release six studio albums to date along with some extended e.p.’s. Live in London is the their first official live release. It was recorded in November 2019, and is apparently (per some of the in-show banter) their largest headlining show to date.

Whilst I’d heard of the band, and the odd track here or there, this was my first in-depth listen of their material. It’s a brave (or very sure of themselves) band that kicks off an album (and show) with an 18-minute track as Periphery do here with “Reptile” (although you could knock a few minutes off for the rather interminable intro music). The track does take a while to get going, and whilst it successfully shows off the band’s chops and their ability to transition smoothly between highly technical, heavier passages and more reflective moments, it doesn’t really add up to a compelling piece of music in my view. On top of this, vocalist Spencer Sotelo is, to my ears, the weak link here. His metalcore shouting is very by-the-numbers, whilst the cleaner vocals are quite weak and seem to waver around a high-to-mid range without really nailing the notes, rendering him a little difficult to listen to. His crowd banter, meanwhile, is purely of the clichéd variety (‘What’s up London?’, ‘Thank you guys so fuckin’ much’ etc.) After this sometimes dirge-like opener, the rather annoyingly titled “CHVRCH BVRNER” is a frenetic and furious burst of noise that is close to the style of Dillinger Escape Plan, perhaps a bit too close.

Elsewhere, highlights would probably be “It’s Only Smiles”, a smoother piece of prog rock with some jazz stylings, although the lurch in to metalcore at times is rather jarring; and the closer, “Lune”, a slow-building piece with some nice guitar interplay. This one is clearly a crowd favourite and does make effective use of the audience in the coda, although this does go on a bit long.

Overall, at around one hour fifteen minutes this did feel a bit like a chore to listen all the way through, which shows that Periphery are one of those bands that didn’t really click with me. I think it is probably the preponderance of US metalcore/ emo (not exactly my favourite styles) that work their way in to most of the songs, along with the (IMHO) weak vocals, that are a definite turn-off for me, as Periphery are clearly skilled musicians and djent is a style I often quite enjoy.

3.Remain Indoors
4.Follow Your Ghosts
7.It’s Only Smiles
9.Blood Eagle

Added: December 21st 2020
Reviewer: Tom De Val
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 814
Language: english

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