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Periphery - Periphery IV: Hail Stan CD (album) cover

PERIPHERY IV: HAIL STAN

Periphery

 

Progressive Metal

3.69 | 29 ratings

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TCat
4 stars Periphery is a Progressive Metal band from Maryland (US) founded in 2005, however they didn't released their first full length album until 2010. Since then, they have released 6 albums, with their 6th titled "Periphery IV: Hail Stan". Founded by Misha Manssor (guitars), the current lineup also includes Spencer Sotelo on vocals, Jake Bowen on guitars, Adam "Nolly" Getgood on bass, Matt Halpern on drums, and Mark Holcomb also on guitar. This is their first album to be released on their own label, and the band plays music that sounds like they set out knowing they had no restraints on the heaviness they wanted to play all along. They have no fear of getting very extreme, but they don't mind softening things up from time to time.

The first track is the longest on the album at over 16 minutes on the truly epic "Reptile" and features Mikee Goodman (one of the vocalists for the British metal band "SikTh"). With a heavy symphonic sound, this track starts to build intensity with thumping guitars and decent yet heavy vocals which fit the style of heaviness quite well. There are some yelling vocals throughout, but they take turns with clean and sometimes processed vocals. The music is hard and heavy and has the complexity required for the progressive metal genre. Right away, with the power and intensity of this track, you know the band means business this time around both in loudness and in production. Before you hit the 8 minute mark, the music calms and a deep, spoken vocal takes over, later followed with a more melodic line sung in a very emotional manner, the music builds and vocals intensify, but the music remains at a slow tempo, and then intensifies to an almost sludgy feel. This finally advances to a nice, heavy instrumental section that is supported by keyboards and a very cool guitar solo. Moods, tempos and meters change as the track continues, playing pretty much the full gamut of progressive metal through the track. The music has the progressive smarts of "Opeth" with the intensity of "The Mars Volta" while managing not to sound like either band.

As for loudness, all the stops are pulled out on "Blood Eagle". Starting off extremely loud and heavy, this sound continues with yelling vocals and full intensity, backing off only for one short section. Both the guitars and the drums play on unchecked by any restraint. This is complex progressive metal at its best, and interestingly enough, the yelling vocals don't even bother me. Maybe that is because of the complexity of the music. This crazy intensity continues without any let up on "CHVRCH BVRNER", but this one ends up with some crazy effects. "Garden in the Bones" does let up a bit more and allows for a more melodic vocal in some parts, but has several vocal styles throughout. In the middle, things soften a bit, but still remain unpredictable.

"It's Only Smiles" has an excellent, attention getting riff which introduces an emotional and melodic sound supported by synths, mellow verses and intense choruses. The guitar solo in the middle is beautiful even in its intensity. This is one of the more accessible tracks on the album, but don't worry because it still has a good level of progressive complexity and plenty of emotion. "Follow Your Ghost" returns to the loud and heavy sound with plenty of screaming and growling vocals, and remains quite relentless throughout. "Crush" is led more by electronics and keyboards with a more straightforward vocal and melody. This track definitely has a more pop-ish feel to it, but it still has some short bouts of complexity. It's a good place to put some variance in the overall album, but, with its heavy used of keys on this track, it almost feel like an entirely different band, however, it is a welcome change and still a great track venturing into "Nine Inch Nails" territory and even has an orchestral ending.

"Sentient Glow" is a cover song originally done by "Haunted Shores". It returns to the heavy sound again, very complex and many different vocal styles in a shorter 4 minute track, and even finds time for a soft section in the middle of it all before the wall of noise returns. The album ends with the 9+ minute track "Satellites". This one is surprisingly softer and has a very nice melodic feel to it. The music is still top notch and even features short harmonic, choral style vocals. But, you knew it had to happen eventually and just before the 5 minutes mark, it suddenly goes heavy and loud against a complex and solid background. After 7 minutes, the sound is more symphonic, and then suddenly very emotional and heavier again.

This is one great album. The vocalist is quite amazing with his ever changing styles, though I could have done with a bit less of the yelling, but at least it's dynamic and quite melodic at times. Overall, however, even with the variance in the styles from time to time, the sound can get extreme and relentless. There is a lot to hear in this album, and most of it is excellent with amazing musicianship, mostly heavy guitar, but with plenty of good surprises throughout. I must say that I really enjoy this album, but, at this time, am hesitant to give it 5 stars, though that could change with time and more listens. I do highly recommend this album though, mostly to those that love their progressive metal heavy and loud, but yet with a lot of variety. The yelling might get on some people's nerves, but the vocals also have dynamic in them and can change from one style to another rather quickly. Anyway, I have no problem calling this an excellent album and one of the best Prog Metal albums I have heard this year, and that is saying a lot.

TCat | 4/5 |

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