Periphery – Juggernaut: Omega – 8.5/10
– This is the second disc of Periphery’s latest release (a two-disc concept album). This album starts off quite similarly to how the first disc started off, as track one is a reprise (hence its title) of “A Black Minute” (the first track of the first disc). It is a brief summary of that track and does not build up as much as that one did. It does not have the responsibility of introducing this concept. It simply acts to remind the listener of themes and melodies that have become important along the way. From there, it goes straight into “The Bad Thing”, a typical Periphery song in the sense that it blends heaviness with catchiness, with both clean vocals and angry vocals that remind me of Corey Taylor in Slipknot. It blends melody with the chugged riffs, and might be one of the more straight forward songs on the album (a middle ground between pieces like “Heavy Heart” and “The Scourge”). Because of this, I can see this one getting played live a lot in the future. The next track, “Priestess”, starts off with acoustic guitar playing which is something completely new for Periphery. The drums and vocals come in with a very alternative/indie approach. This is the closest Periphery has ever come to a song that that I could imagine being played on the radio. The 5 minute duration flies by and has an excellent guitar solo. It gets heavier towards the end with slight growls. It even has an electronic sounding moment thanks to the use of keyboards. This is a standout track in my opinion, and is one of my favorites along with “Heavy Heart”. It ends with a darker chord progression that leads to “Graveless”, a heavy and chaotic sounding song. In the midst of it, it contains some trademark Periphery melodies that catchy and fun to sing along to. This track is reminiscent of the songs from the second half of the first disc and contains another excellent guitar solo and a soft bridge. This all leads to one of the darkest and heaviest sounding songs Periphery has released. “Hell Below” fully embraces the Meshuggah influence that Periphery is known for. It alternates between very industrial passages and clean vocals that sound like a group of people who are marching and singing (if you had forgotten about the war theme during the last couple of tracks, this song brings it back out in full force). Spencer’s vocals are excellent in this track and I would love to see them pull this one off live. Like “MK Ultra” did on the first album, the heaviest track ends with a latin jazz section complete with guitar solo which enables a transition into the longest song on either album (and the longest song that Periphery has done since “Racecar” on the first album). “Omega” starts off with piano and keyboards before getting into the swing of things with technicality, heaviness, and an excellent vocal performance. Around 2 minutes, the song starts to change and has a mini drum solo over Spencer’s clean vocals and a haunting guitar melody. The journey continues with mini guitar solos, Spencer’s soaring vocals over the very tight playing of the full band, dissonant guitar lines, and uplifting chord progressions. The lyrics are a plea to make things right after all the characters have been through and all that they have seen. Because of this, the lyrics are sure to be fan favorites. This song encompasses all the great elements of Periphery without over staying its welcome, and I’m sure will cause much debate as to whether this or “Racecar” is the better epic. My vote might have to go with this one. It gets soft at 8 minutes in, before getting really jazzy at around 9 minutes. The finale is epic and the repeated lyrics/chord progressions build up nicely. Lyrics from previous songs are reused and the song finally ends with an extremely heavy ending. It seems like the album would end here perfectly, but the final track, “Stranger Things” ties everything together nicely in its 7 minute and 30 second duration. After the chaos of that epic track, this song wraps it all up perfectly. It is able to show off all the aspects of Periphery and of these two discs, from the melodic, to the soulful, to the technical, to the heavy, and to the emotional. The drumming is excellent and so is the minute long fadeout. It lets you sit and absorb everything you just listened, and retain all the vocal melodies in your head. All in all, this journey is well worth taking. It probably won’t be my favorite album of the year like it will be for other people. I kind of expected there to be more diversity throughout it. However, I do have a lot of respect for it. To me, it shows a band doing what they do best. A lot of heart, soul, and effort went into these two albums, and they will surely get a lot of spins from me. Maybe with more listens, the scores will eventually be raised.