Photos from KOKO show in London, courtesy of the wonderful Hannah Cole.
It’s been a busy year for Periphery. After releasing a gigantic double album – a literal Juggernaut (Alpha and Omega, respectively) – the band have spent much of the year on the road…so why not round it out with a huge European tour spanning much of November and December?
After a long drive from Bournemouth to Bristol, with a short stop in Southampton, we walk through the door just as Good Tiger, a late addition to the bill, are getting on stage. Despite having just recently released their debut album A Head Full of Moonlight, they are no strangers to the Marble Factory’s crowd; not only are people already familiar with the material, singing along to Elliott Coleman’s soaring vocal lines to the best of their abilities, but also each member’s respective background within this wonderful scene of ours, which include stints in TesseracT, Architects, The HAARP Machine and The Safety Fire
Even without those connections, Good Tiger are a group that can stand on its their merits. While not flawless by any means, their debut delivers on a promise that’s also fulfilled on stage. Each member brings enough recognisable elements from their past – along with a bit of freshness sprinkled on top – to make Good Tiger simultaneously fresh and familiar.
Perhaps the most impressive element of the night is Elliott’s always-on-point vocal performance, bringing to mind comparisons to The Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Jeff Buckley (a comparison that’s barely left Coleman’s side since his TesseracT days). A bit more familiarity with the material would have definitely helped in getting truly immersed in the show, but if nothing else it will have encouraged everyone with that issue to make the necessary arrangements to be fully up to date by the next time Good Tiger roll into town.
Next on stage are Veil of Maya, in what is no doubt many punters’ first live experience with the US deathcore band after their vocalist change last year. Playing a nice variety material the new and old, they’re tight as a very inappropriate metaphor – but there are a couple of things that hold them back from true greatness; some personal, some general. Despite the extremely crisp and well-mixed guitar, drums and vocals, the bass seems surprisingly absent in the mix which is a shame, as Danny Hauser is a joy to behold playing that 7-string beast of his. Later in the set vocalist Lukas Magyar seems a bit fatigued, which takes some of the power away from his high screams; a particular highlight of the first half.
The personal qualms don’t seem to stop most audience members from getting into it, but have to be mentioned for the sake of full disclosure: Veil of Maya have, to be perfectly honest, never been a personal favourite. The older stuff has some really cool riffs but is vocally uninteresting, while the newer material seems too reliant on the vocal hooks so a lot of what’s in between becomes chuggy filler which causes the set to drag a little.
Having said that, the band definitely give it their all, with guitarist Marc Okubo especially prominent in his apparent love for the stage. Veil of Maya put on a great performance; a personal highlight being when they played “Punisher” and seemingly the whole crowd yells out “All they have is just brow-now dow-now-now-now dwidudu dwidududu” in the slight pause near the end.
The first two bands both got great energy out of the crowd and were greeted with much love, but when Periphery take the stage it’s clear who’s headlining this tour and why. From the opening PII trilogy of “Muramasa”, “Ragnarok” and “Masamune”, the Marylanders have the crowd in the palm of their hands, with all occasions of backing vocals being handled beautifully by a crowd supremely passionate about the band’s material.
The night’s set list is a real cross section of their material, as the band play songs from each of their three full lengths (four, if you count Juggernaut as two). Of course the Juggernaut material is most prominent, but hearing old favourites like “The Walk” and “Icarus Lives” is a welcome addition. With Juggernaut no doubt set to appear on many year-end lists, many are excited to see how the new material translates into the live environment and anyone worried that it would be anything less than stellar can put those worries to rest. Every single member is obviously already pumped for the tour, but feeding off the crowd’s enthusiasm pushes them into supernova energy levels.
The band seem to have a lot of fun but still manage to perform the material to perfection, bringing together elements that seem to be mutually exclusive among a number of progressive metal bands. In short, the performance is effortlessly spectacular, the crowd is like a 7th member on backing vocals, and the setlist is wonderful.
Near the end the band leave the stage for a moment and people begin the inevitable “one more song” chant, but Spencer quickly reappears to tell everyone not to worry, the band have three more songs to play. The last of those three was Juggernaut Omega closer “Stranger Things”, a perfect ending to one of the best shows of the year.