As time has gone on, rock music has evolved. To me, Led Zeppelin was the first rock band to combine incredible musicianship with great songwriting. Before that, most bands could only muster one or the other. History has shown that pulling off both at the same time has proved to be quite an elusive trick. While Led Zeppelin might sound almost nothing like Periphery, the core elements that made that band amazing, are the same ones that solidify Periphery as indelible game changers. They have the power to harness their virtuoso talents and manifest them into palatable, original compositions – a.k.a., badass, mind-blowing songs that push the envelope into a brave new genre of rock. Yeah, there are the Joe Satrianis of the world. And yes, they indeed are proficient at their instrument. But, they basically just jerk off with a guitar and try to show how complicated they can make things. That’s great and all, but it becomes almost a chore to get through an album. The novelty wears off quickly, and over time, reveals itself to be a cheap form of art. And then we have the Green Days of the world – fantastic songwriting, with the ability to listen to it repeatedly, but not quite earth-shattering originality. It’s just not terribly interesting or challenging to the ear. You won’t find yourself picking out some new sonic treat you missed in all the layers the first few times you heard the song. Periphery, like Led Zeppelin, have that special something where the songs can offer you something new every time you give a listen. That’s the hallmark of a great work of art.
At the core of every great rock band you will find two things. First, they will have great songs everyone likes to sing along to. Second, the drummer and the guitarist/songwriter will be the best in the world for their time. Thinking of my favorite bands, let me name the duos that come to mind : Bonham/Page, Alex/Eddie Van Halen, Ulrich/Hammett, Grohl/Cobain, and now, Halpern/Mansoor.
Now, I can hear the skepticism from the masses, doubting that a drummer really matters. While I am not much of a drummer, I feel they are an underrated, often overlooked component beating at the heart of every great band. There are three main ingredients in songwriting – rhythm, melody, and lyrics. And without pushing those rhythmic boundaries, you are missing a major part of the equation. Make no mistake, the best rock drummers of each generation ARE more than just timekeepers, they are true songwriters. Periphery’s Matt Halpern can write some great songs, and below he and guitarist Misha Mansoor show you don’t need melody to move the masses.
Together, the band craft intricately woven polyrhythms and melodies. Guitars shift from screaming to djenting within the span of a second. This can be heard in almost every song the album has to offer. From the sonic explosion that is “Have a Blast” to the dark and melodic “Mile Zero”, the album takes head banging to a whole other level. This ain’t your daddy’s 4/4 timing. You’d best learn all the proper stops, drops, twists, and turns or you’ll find yourself quite discombobulated in the mosh pit. It took me a good 4 months of solid steering wheel drumming to be able to properly thrash out to this album. My personal favorites are “Luck as a Constant” and “Ji”.
Just take a look at this concert footage from Paris 2013, and tell me they aren’t doing something special….
I can’t wait for their next album. I have high expectations for this band and feel confident there will be more gems to come. If you haven’t heard of Periphery yet, give it a year or two. Maybe you don’t dig all the screaming. And at times, it can be a bit much, even for me. If I were their producer, I’d keep most of the hostility confined to the non-vocal instrumentation. Fingers crossed, for Periphery III, they will be secure enough in their masculinity to let some of the anger dissipate, and allow a wee bit more melody to creep into the vocals. But, I won’t be holding my breath for that to happen – just for the release date.
Overall Rating : 9.6/10