Album Review: PERIPHERY – Periphery V: Djent is Not a Genre


Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre

Label: 3DOT Recordings

Release Date: March 10th, 2023

The band Periphery has returned with the follow-up to 2019’s critically-acclaimed Periphery IV: HAIL STAN. The genre-shifting GRAMMY® Award-nominated progressive metal quintet will release Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre on March 10, 2023. Djent is not a genre. It’s an onomatopoeia of the sound a guitar makes when it chugs away at a chunky riff. “Fffu-djugh-ugh-what,” is also an onomatopoeia. That is the sound I made when I turned on this album. The reason I made such a sound is, mainly, this album assaults you. It assaults you in a way that you enjoy, and it awakens a primal urge to get buck naked and mosh in your living room so that you can disrespect your surroundings properly. Lamp? Roundhouse it like Norris in his prime. Roomba? Kick that sucker into the stratosphere. Mother-In-Law? Ask her firmly, yet politely to leave because you’re naked and that’s uncomfortable for you.

The album begins with the aptly named “Wildfire”; a track that the band has already released a music video for. Those that have listened to it already can confirm that it’s everything we love about Periphery, (proggy chugging riffs and rhythms with melodic/vicious vocals) but with a touch of jazz piano and a sexy saxophone solo by Jørgen Munkeby that takes the song to a beautiful “eye of the storm” moment before you’re thrust back into the catchy-as-hell chorus. We are then thrust into the downtuned chug-fest introduction for the song “Atropos” which starts off as a guitar assault before pulling back into a rhythmic bumping with room for the frontman, Spencer Sotelo, to soar over with his poppy tenor vocal melody before diving back into the “djent djent” of the rhythmic guitar work from Jake Bowen (guitar, synth, programming), Misha Mansoor (guitar, synth, orchestration), and Mark Holcomb (guitar). The track heads toward an almost Korn-styled Nu-Metal sounding segment before a full orchestral segment takes the ball and runs with it toward the next track.

“Wax Wings”, starts with a clean guitar diddle that has shades of old Scale The Summit before heading toward a soulful song that reminds you exactly why this band was nominated for a Grammy. This is a track you play for your friends who are mainstream music fans and are asking about the metal bands that they should check out first. There’s a soaring chorus that puts you straight into your feels before taking you into a slightly heavier bridge. The bridge collapses into a piano section with distant guitars and an absolutely blistering vocal performance by Sotelo. This may be his best performance to date because there’s emotion in it that is only enhanced by the pristine orchestration and compositions by the rest of the band. The next song, “Everything Is Fine!”, is not the song you show your friends who are looking to get into metal. They’re not ready for it. This is a song for the metal fan, and more specifically the modern guitar nerd. It is heavy, and full of Digitech Whammy (Dimebag Darrell’s pedal of choice) pitch shifting that brings an element of chaos into the track. You truly do not have a clue where this song is going to take you, other than straight into the pit. While in the pit, the tone will shift to “Silhouette”. So you might celebrate this 80s-styled synthpop anthem by grabbing a partner and slow dancing like you’re in junior high again. This sudden change in tone while maintaining that element that keeps it a Periphery song is such a testament to what this band is capable of.

This experience then takes us to “Dying Star”, where our guitar players shine, but Matt Halpern’s drums take flight on a technical journey that really sticks with you in its ability to go from odd time signatures to a beautiful central chorus. The overall feel of the song makes you feel like you’re listening to a prog song at church, and the Holy Spirit is alive and working in that place. “Zagreus” is a heavy track that has the familiar Periphery vibe we know and love with a fine balance of clean and harsh vocals. It also has one of the smoothest Gilmour-meets-Petrucci guitar solos on the record from Jake Bowen. “Zagreus” is followed by the longest track of the album, “Dracul Gras”, which seems to translate to “Fat Dracula.” This is such a fitting title because this track has some fat-assed riffs, rhythms, and vocals. It also seems to lyrically be about Dracula feeding, which satisfies my inner goth kid. They end this glorious feat of music with the final track, “Thanks Nobuo”. Clearly a nod to the famed Japanese Composer for the Final Fantasy series, Nobuo Uematsu, this is the track where they lay it all out on the table. However, the ambient orchestral/synth composition and arrangements by Misha Mansoor should be given a good chunk of the credit as they take you to a place of serenity. If you close your eyes, I swear you are taken off to a fantasy world and lay down to sleep on a cloud. I’d like to cut that final piece out of the song and just put it on loop when I sleep because of how serene it truly is. It’s the perfect way to wrap this thing in a bow.

This album doesn’t just surpass all previous albums, it keeps running past the goalpost like Forrest Gump did for ‘Bama. This is a band that consistently outdoes itself and provides meaningful and humorous content for its fans and critics. They’re a staple in metal culture for the current generation and generations to come. While Djent may not be a genre, Periphery proves that it’s a culture. It’s a movement that bridges the gap between old fans, new fans, metal, pop, jazz, bedroom guitar players, and seasoned tour dogs. Periphery is right in the middle of all of it, and they’re steering the ship.

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