Prog metal luminaries Periphery have quietly gone about their business, releasing six acclaimed records across 13 years and becoming torchbearers for the genre in which they ply their trade. But that doesn't stop all hands from poking the bear every now and then.
The bands' seventh studio album is a conversation starter to be sure. Periphery V: Djent is Not a Genre (available March 10 through 3DOT Recordings), is a thumb to the eye of internet trolls and keyboard warriors, an inside joke which keeps on giving for band members Jake Bowen, Matt Halpern, Mark Holcomb, Misha Mansoor, and Spencer Sotelo.
Yet despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of its title, Periphery's latest collection of eclectic sonic fury was fraught with trials and uncertainty for its makers, shares Mansoor in a one-on-one interview with Metal Injection.
"Sometimes it just felt like we were going nowhere fast, you know? And there were times where I couldn't really fathom how this album was going to get done, because you have to understand at this point this is really like a passion project for me," he admits candidly.
"There's no point in putting out an album that we're not proud of. And I was just not feeling good about any of this stuff. I was actually pretty demoralized probably up until halfway through. And we'd written an album's worth of material and just nothing was really working or clicking. And I think it was largely because we weren't all together. We were getting feedback at different times.
"There's a certain magic of being in the room as something's getting created and it makes you sort of invested. Some members weren't having that. I don't want to blame that just on the pandemic. But definitely all the other problems sort of stemmed from things that started out as the pandemic being the core issue."
Beyond the approval of fans or critics, Mansoor urges that Periphery have always fed off their own personal gratification with the material, which, for Mansoor at least, was noticeably lacking early on in the V sessions.
"It's not the critical or the fan approval that's important, it's our own feelings. Because Hail Stan came together fairly easily and that record was one that I was really proud of. I was really happy with how that came out, which is why if fans or critics were like, 'ehh they lost their touch,' I just didn't care. It makes you invincible. Like if you believe in something, if you believe in what you put out, then it makes you invincible," he admits.
"And I think one of the things I accepted is that maybe I shouldn't aim to feel as good about this one. I should feel proud of it and I should feel great about it, but maybe that will just be the high watermark for me and I just have to accept that, and I'm stressing myself out by just trying to top it. And this is all in the abstract anyway, so I don't really know what the path is to that."
Though, thankfully for both band and followers alike, the band did come to a point of great comfort with the record, which had to pass the sniff test to live up to the strong discography Periphery has built across nearly two decades.
"When you have a body of material, it's like the stuff that makes the cut, it's just higher. The standard is higher, and it's really just stuff we're saying for ourselves. We're not thinking about fans or critics or anything like that.
"It's just an internal feeling of we've kind of done this before. Like, yeah, this isn't really hitting the mark. It's good, but it's not great and good wasn't cutting it anymore," Mansoor shares, adding that, "Somehow, almost in like the 11th hour, the album sort of came to life."
As for the headline-grabbing title, yeah, the band is having fun at the expense of the Reddit message boards.
"In all seriousness, look, we got retroactively called djent. And at first it's like, 'Hey, what, we're progressive metal!' But then eventually it's like it doesn't really matter. It's just the classification, a way that people categorize us and whatever you call us doesn't actually change anything about our process.
"Our process is so sacred. You can say we're like post polka core and it wouldn't really matter, right? It's something that I'm like, 'well, if you guys get to call us that, we get to have fun with it too,' you know?" Mansoor shares with a grin.
"Look, I've always thought that, at the end of the day, band names, album titles, song titles don't really matter. People take that stuff very seriously. We take the music extremely seriously. Extremely. It's stress inducing, taking years off of my life, seriously. So our philosophy is we get to kind of take the piss out of everything else. It really doesn't matter. It genuinely doesn't matter."
Mansoor knows full well prog fans wear their emotions on their collective sleeves, making them easy targets for some dark humor from one of the era's most prolific and polarizing prog bands.
"Maybe that's why I feel the need to subvert it. It's just so tempting to be a troll about it because it's low hanging fruit that really doesn't affect me. If you told me like, 'Hey, can you change this thing on a song or could you do this?' It'd be like, No, And I'm offended that you're asking or that you think that you could ask that. But anything else is fair game."
Parting thoughts? Mansoor, for one, is grateful for the Periphery experience.
"We've gotten so much further than I ever thought we would. And I think even a few albums ago I was like, look, if this is it, I'm happy. You know, if we never get any bigger than this. I don't really know what the scope is, and I feel like this is all a bonus right now. This is all great. If we never get any bigger, or if it starts to decline from here, I'll be grateful for the run."
Periphery is out on the road with special guests Underoath right now. Periphery V: Djent is Not a Genre is available worldwide March 10! Pre-orders are available here.
3/8 Pittsburgh, PA Roxian Theatre [Tickets]
3/10 East Moline, IL The Rust Belt [Tickets]
3/11 Milwaukee, WI The Eagles Club [Tickets]
3/13 Grand Rapids, MI GLC Live at 20 Monroe [Tickets]
3/14 St. Louis, MO The Pageant [Tickets]
3/15 Kansas City, MO The Uptown Theater [Tickets]
3/17 Wichita, KS The Cotilion [Tickets]
3/18 Denver, CO The Ogden Theatre [Tickets]
3/20 Boise, ID Revolution [Tickets]
3/21 Portland, OR The Roseland Theater [Tickets]
3/23 Wheatland, CA Hard Rock Live Sacramento [Tickets]
3/24 Anaheim, CA House of Blues [Tickets]
3/25 Las Vegas, NV Brooklyn Bowl [Tickets]
3/26 San Diego, CA SOMA [Tickets]
3/27 Tucson, AZ The Rialto Theatre [Tickets]
3/29 Albuquerque, NM The El Rey Theatre [Tickets]
3/31 Oklahoma City, OK The Diamond Ballroom [Tickets]
4/1 Little Rock, AR The Hall [Tickets]
4/2 Nashville, TN Marathon Music Works [Tickets]