» Blog Archive Review: Periphery IV Hails In A New Chapter For Band -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews

It’s been nearly ten years since Periphery’s debut album, and in that time the group has become a formidable force of production innovation, songwriting, and musical chops recognizable across the entirety of the metal spectrum. What started as a bedroom project is now a full-fledged touring outfit and a former solo project has become a self-oscillating music machine that constantly challenges itself. Periphery IV: Hail Stan, unbelievably the band’s sixth album, is the first in which the band has struck independent on their new label, 3Dot Recordings, and with it comes the freedom of complete musical expression. While the band continue to expand their sound outward and innovate on what they’ve founded, they’ve managed to craft something unique and special that even longtime fans will manage to be surprised by. You might think you know what you’re getting with this album, but I assure you: you don’t.

“Reptile” is no doubt the attention grabber of the album as the opening track is the longest in the band’s discography to date, outlasting both “Racecar” and “Omega.” Clocking in at just under 17 minutes, it’s a whirlwind of brutality, melody, and the incredible musicianship you’ve come to expect from the band all at once. It could have been an easy task for the opener to serve as an overblown overture for what the rest of the album holds, but Periphery have crafted a beast that is among their strongest tracks to date. Hail Stan is full of moments with large choirs, huge dynamics, and head-splitting riffs that will catch the world by storm.

The first 26 minutes are diversely heavy yet by the midway point through the album, “It’s Only Smiles” comes up and all of a sudden the band that was just snarling about performing blood eagle practices is switching it up for their own melodic offering that is a surefire bet for radio play. It’d be a monotonous effort to hear Periphery fall into a simple radio format, and the band are very much aware of that as the song in question evolves and keeps the structure fresh and exciting along the way.

To say the album is a step up from Periphery III would be to put it mildly, as the band are operating on a higher level in every aspect here. Periphery III I even found to be a great album, so to see the band come back this strong is really something. Vocalist Spencer Sotelo sounds the most relaxed he has ever been on an album and guitarists Misha Mansoor, Jake Bowen, and Mark Holcomb are still finding new ways to impress me, (1:30 into “Sentient Glow,” which is very reminiscent of Periphery II in all the right ways) but it’s drummer Matt Halpern who truly owns this album. Pick a track, because there’s a high probability that he’s going to be doing something impressive here.

Production wise, it’s a glossy affair as always with Periphery. Hail Stan improves where the band left off on their previous release and their tricks all work exceptionally well with both heavy and light sections. You can always hear everything going on, no one is drowned out, and it’s all perfected to a “T” by this point. I did prefer where the bass sat in the mix on the Juggernaut albums and Periphery III, but it is still perfectly audible here and is even clear on laptop speakers.

But where Periphery IV excels most is the experience of it being digested as a whole album. You’ll hear many different aspects of the band across a wide spectrum they are continuing to expand and the grand majority of it is very new and fresh territory. Songs are overly catchy and some are instant classics that I (As a fan since their debut) have come to love instantly. (“Satellites” is like “Lune” but on steroids) There’s surprises to be had as well as everything you’d want from Periphery by this point. Simply put, any and every fan will be overly ecstatic with what they’re getting themselves into.

It’s early to say, but after many listens thus far this is an easy Album of the Year contender for myself. What this album is going to do is attract a whole slew of new fans and possibly be the band’s biggest release that propels them the distance they need to go. I dunno what to say other than that I’ve got a good feeling for the band this time around; time will tell where it sits in my own personal ranking, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that this album slaps.

EDIT: Previously mentioned “Sentient Glow” and I just realized it’s a former Haunted Shores song, a project that exists between Mansoor and Holcomb. Cool as hell.

Periphery IV: Hail Stan is available everywhere April 5th. You can stream “Blood Eagle” below.

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