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Newly signed to Century Media, American metal innovators Periphery's second full-length offering has arrived in the form of the aptly titled 'Periphery II'. And they've delivered a corker of an album. Their aesthetic is a refreshingly varied one that incorporates heavy, down-tuned djent grooves; progressive elements (both generic and genuinely innovative); polyrhythmic song structures; ambient synths and clean guitar passages; sporadically programmed percussion; and both clean and growled vocals. And then some. Opting for a triumvirate of guitarists, there's nothing verging on Murray/Smith/Gers about Periphery's approach; rather the trio of axe wielders utilise their instruments to create and embellish the innovative dynamic at the core of their compositions. As does the tight and precise rhythm section of drummer Matt Halpern and bassist Adam Getgood; tight and precise but with innovative flourishes throughout with inventive drum fills and cleverly posited bass runs. Likewise, Spencer Sotelo's clean vocals cover an entire spectrum of emotions that enhance and drive the changing moods and general feeling of the music in all the right places. His death growls are perhaps a little two-dimensional and not quite as effective but at least his vocal palette is diverse enough to bring a little aggression into the mix as well. Further, there are guest guitar spots courtesy of Dream Theater virtuoso John Petrucci, Wes Hauch from The Faceless and the UK's very own Guthrie Govan and those familiar with the stylistic traits of said players will be able to easily pick out each of their contributions.

Technically speaking, 'Periphery II' cannot be faulted as we're talking flawless musical virtuosity throughout the near-70 minute playing time. However, the technicality sometimes feels a little too forced and contrived, and at the expense of the songs' different moods. That is, the innovative elements occasionally detract from the feeling of a song rather than adding to it. This is reflected in the album's production too. 'Periphery II' has a crystal clear production and perfectly balanced mix which works well for its incisive prog vigour. There's still an underlying organic essence in their sound, but the emphasis has been placed more on lucid vitality which works well for the technicality inherent in both the songwriting and its execution, although perhaps sounds a little too polished at times. These are minor gripes, however, and more to do with my own aural preferences than identifying shortfalls per se. As such, 'Periphery II' is highly recommended for those who like their metal both innovative and virtuosic.
Century Media
Review by Mark Holmes
16th July 2012
1) Muramasa; 2) Have a Blast
3) Facepalm Mute; 4) Ji
5) Scarlet; 6) Luck as a Constant
7) Ragnarok
8) The Gods Must Be Crazy!
9) Make Total Destroy
10) Erised
11) Epoch
12) Froggin' Bullfish
13) Mile Zero
14) Masamune
"...highly recommended for those who like their metal both innovative and virtuosic."