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Periphery tour

The queue is looking quite formidable when London’s O2 Forum appears on the horizon, with people lining up beyond two of the building’s corners. What are all these people waiting for? A trio of progressive metal bands, each with their own unique take on the genre, headlined by Periphery, hot on the trails of their latest studio album Periphery III: Select Difficulty.

Destrage O2 Forum 20.5.17 - photo by Hannah Cole

Destrage. Photo credit: Hannah Cole

Before Misha and the Peripherals take the stage, we’ve got a treat on our hands in the form of Destrage and The Contortionist respectively. The former waste no time in getting the night started, launching into a series of songs from both their latest album A Means To No End as well as their 2014 album Are You Kidding Me? No.

As usual Destrage bring an infectious energy to the stage that makes it very clear that they love what they do. Deftly maneuvering the fine line between technique and songwriting savvy, Destrage have managed to craft some real catchy bangers with fretboard acrobatics aplenty. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in set-closer “Purania“, where the juxtaposition of the ultra-catchy chorus and the chaotic shredfest in the middle of the song displays a fine balance much appreciated in a scene often lambasted for its focus on mindless wankery.

The Contortionist O2 Forum 20.5.17

The Contortionist. Photo credit: Hannah Cole

After Destrage get off the stage, it’s time for the first of two American bands to step on-stage tonight, The Contortionist, to show off their chops. These chops are not of the shreddy kind however, but rather of a kind more closely related to latter day Cynic. That’s not to say they’ve completely lost the deathcore that characterised the band’s early days, but when they do veer into that territory we’re treated to something quite spectacular. Jon Carpenter, the band’s original vocalist, has since been replaced by Mike Lessard, and the latter has allowed himself – along with the rest of the band – a bit of creative license with the older tracks, and it almost feels like he’s effortlessly freestyling over some of the instrumental parts.

The band’s set flows together regardless of where in their discography songs fit, everything deftly rearranged to fit together and interwoven with Lessard’s experimental vocal work, bringing to mind his old band Last Chance To Reason‘s magnum opus Level 2. The band itself skillfully, if rather statically, play through the creatively arranged set, but it’s Lessard’s voice that causes goosebumps to arise across the room on several occasions.

Periphery O2 Forum 20.5.17 - photo by Hannah Cole

Periphery. Photo credit: Hannah Cole

After the one-two combo of Destragious Contortions (super group in the making?) it’s time for the headliners to step up to the podium – and step up they do. As was made fairly clear in my review of Periphery’s latest release, it’s not by any means a bad album – but it’s also definitely not a favourite, so how heavily it was featured in the set list, while understandable, was a bit disappointing. Of course it was a great pleasure to hear the album’s stronger tracks like “The Way The News Goes” and “Marigold“, it was less exciting to hear the still bewildering phrase “Beauty disgusting blood” repeated in “The Price is Wrong“. This was remedied with the surprise appearance of Mikee Goodman of SikTh joining Periphery on stage, taking some of Spencer Sotelo’s lines in the song.

Speaking of Sotelo, following someone as skilled as Mike Lessard is no easy feat, but Spencer’s got some real pipes on him and manages to belt out these challenging songs with a frightening accuracy while also being fairly energetic on stage – as does the rest of the band. Guitarists Misha, Jake and Mark exchange bromantic moments of high fives, arm-crossed champagne drinking and more throughout, and always accompanied by a big smile on everyone’s faces.

Periphery - Mark Holcomb - O2 Forum 20.5.17 - photo by Hannah Cole

Periphery. Photo credit: Hannah Cole

Between the P3 songs, we get one P2 song and a handful of Juggernaut ones, but at the end of the night where the band returns for an encore, an opportunity ripe for fan service, the band decides, rather than playing an golden oldie they launch into yet another P3 track. It felt like a lost opportunity even though it is understandable for a band to want their latest material to feature heavily in a tour mainly meant to publicise said record.

Overall it’s hard to complain when the material is this skillfully executed and especially when it was preceded by two immensely strong acts within the scene. Instead I’ll complain about the fact that Last Chance To Reason are no longer around and that after Spencer cut his hair he no longer pulls off the Charlie Day look he so elegantly rocked in the “Jetpacks Was Yes” video.

Periphery - Mark Holcomb, Spencer Sotelo - O2 Forum 20.5.17 - photo by Hannah Cole

Periphery. Photo credit: Hannah Cole

Jón writer banner Jan 2015

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