By: Aidan Clucas
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Released on July 22, 2016 via Sumerian Records / Century Media Records
It may be Periphery’s fifth album, but their new release is the third in its name. Periphery III: Select Difficulty has been completed remarkably quickly, given the release of the double album Juggernaut just last year. They have immediately stripped away some of the most iconic progressive sounds of that release, and returned to the more stuttering and syncopating rhythms that saw them rise to prominence within the ‘djent’ scene.
Maintaining the tradition of their main albums, Select Difficulty omits any ambient or electronic based introduction, instead proceeding to demonstrate the immediate savagery in Periphery’s riff writing with ‘The Price is Wrong’, which has been heard on the radio, and ‘Motormouth’, which has a fantastically vicious chorus. In a sense this reflects much of the album, as more ambient and drawn out sections, as well as electronic interludes, have almost been gradually removed, but not entirely.
‘Remain Indoors’ is the first time the album truly excels. It is the first culmination of all modern elements of Periphery and comes at the point in the album where the songs become more easily disenable and memorable. The album continues to pick up with ‘Habitual Line Stepper’, serving as the perfect centre piece to the album. The remainder of the album demonstrates how the best elements are saved for the end, although the majority of those songs do lack some pace. ‘Catch Fire’ is the most radically different, and while it is very pop driven, there are even elements of hip-hop in the verse; or perhaps it is more reminiscent of Faith No More. The album closes with ‘Lune’, an ambitious ballad which, though it doesn’t match up to Periphery’s technicalities, is still a powerful closer to the album.
The album itself seems like an experiment. Drawing on influences from the first album yet not overly pushing in any serious direction. Where it succeeds in this experimentation it is probably let down in its accessibility. Though a song like ‘Marigold’ features a great chorus melody, the song itself may be daunting to those who aren’t well versed in progressive rock and metal. ‘The Way the News Goes…’ would probably be the most accessible song, but it doesn’t reflect Periphery as a body entirely well; it does, however, focus on the softer elements of Periphery’s music which is slowly making its way to the fore.
The album itself progresses; the first half contains most of the harsh instrumentals, whilst towards the end melody and simplified instrumentals become more prominent. This is subjective, but it is not better than any previous Periphery release, as it lacks the sheer thrill or astonishment of its predecessors. It is hindered as well by the quality of metal and rock albums released this year, 2016. But it is by no means a disappointment, it is just a very good album in amongst great albums. It is also an affirmation of what Periphery are capable of, and a hint at the direction they are going in.