Listening to Periphery makes me sick to my stomach, much like a bitter pill to induce projectile vomiting after ingesting strychnine or some other drain cleaner to put myself out of my misery. Why didn’t I try harder? Is this all that there is in my life? How can these guys in their basement with a camera, a Youtube account and some recording gear change the face of metal as we know it? It is a testament to where we are in 2015, standing at the edge of some of the most interesting changes in music and we all get to bear witness. Juggenaut: Alpha and Omega demonstrates how some dudes with an incredible amount of talent and patience can create something more profound than they probably even realize just yet.
When the term “djent” rolled off the keyboards of the bloggers it seemed like a joke, we would all look back on this dumb little tangent of metal and laugh about how cute it became. Five years in the rubber meets the road with imitators producing crappy versions of retreaded songs from the early innovators and the foundation bands – Periphery in particular – seem to look forward to where they can make strides in their abilities, always pushing the boundaries of their instruments as well as their songwriting.
With their previous two full length albums, Misha Mansoor and company possessed some great songs, intricate parts and swimming progressive sounds, but never brought an idea to bear like they have with Juggenaut. Instead of a collection of songs representing where Periphery stands presently, this album feels like one thought… well, two actually, comprised as two parts. If it were not for the track numbers clicking by you might never know where one song ends and another begins as you roll through.
Each song builds into another, painting a landscape of sound, precious and beautiful in parts, aggressive and powerful in others, Juggernaut doesn’t sound different than what Periphery is known for, it feels different, mature, and ready for a world larger than they have even been exposed to. Finally a band in this questionable genre parted the waters, charged through the void and will lead it to the next stage of evolution.
We all know that they have talent – no doubt was ever cast in that arena – but Alpha and Omega sounds less like dudes trying to impress each other with how awesome they can wield a 35 string guitar, which effectively allows all parts to shine through more than ever while they blend together perfectly. The most outstanding being Spencer Sotelo: yes you might hate clean singing, but his ability to lay in the right texture in the right context perfects what would otherwise be a great instrumental record.
The first two samples from the album “The Scourge” and “The Bad Thing” stand alone fairly well, yet in the context of the record you hear how they influence the rest of the album. In a time when an iTunes single or Youtube video is all people might see from any band, the intuition to release an album – a true album – could be seen as folly. Periphery wins the argument as their writing style has allowed for both concepts to exist simultaneously.
The members of the band have been talking about Juggernaut for several years in interviews as something they were unable to finish, or at least constantly working on and adjusting, even releasing the Clear Ep in 2013 with each song curated by a different member of the band allowing for the creative process to find other ways to unleash itself. Is djent a real genre? We may never know, but Periphery will transcend past the classification and continue to be something special. Guess I need rethink my life and try to do something important.