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Periphery - Juggernaut Alpha album art

Juggernaut: Alpha

27th January 2015 – Sumerian Records/Century Media

01. A Black Minute
02. MK Ultra
03. Heavy Heart
04. The Event
05. The Scourge
06. Alpha
07. 22 Faces
08. Rainbow Gravity
09. Four Lights
10. Psychosphere

The story of Juggernaut‘s creation is one not unlike the creation of Periphery itself. Starting with a vague idea – a groovy but melodic progressive metal band on one hand, and an epic concept album on the other – they took on lives of their own before evolving into something much greater than the sum of their parts. In this case the parts are two separate albums: Alpha and Omega; joined together by a single concept.

Periphery have returned with everything they had before – technical riffs, grooves and catchy pop – and added in epic, soundtrack-like parts. A perfect example of this is “The Event“; an entire track dedicated to building one particular groove. They give a similarly filmic part in “The Scourge” the space it needs to feel suitably epic within an album that’s the definition of the word. All of this comes together to create something not only catchy and fun, but also emotional and powerful. The flow feels natural and the recurring motifs, both musical and lyrical, are brilliantly utilized throughout both Alpha and Omega, so you’re always fully immersed in the conceptual nature of the titular juggernaut.

It’s clear that frontman Spencer Sotelo’s control of his voice now rivals the best in this scene – as well as most other scenes for that matter. From opening track “A Black Minute” to the close of “Psychosphere“, his screams, sometimes a weak point earlier in Periphery’s career, are now vicious and cathartic, and his cleans are more powerful and balanced than ever before.

It would be easy to write their squad of three guitarists off as a gimmick but Jake, Misha and Mark truly make use of every string; riffs are often harmonised, the solos are memorable, and subtle touches add ambient textures to parts that would have felt empty without them. The rhythm section of Adam “Nolly” Getgood and Matt Halpern is also an exceptionally strong one. Nolly makes good use of his 6-string bass, with its deepest string tuned an octave below the 8 string guitars utilized by his fellow axemen. Drummer Halpern also seems to find the exact right beat, fill and embellishment for every occasion, and given his impressive chops in some of the faster parts on the album, I’d love to see Periphery expand upon that in the future as a lot of their material is focused on mid-tempo riffs.

Juggernaut contains Periphery’s most varied material yet; the pop is poppier (“Heavy Heart”), the heavy is heavier (“Four Lights”/”MK Ultra”) and the epic is more epic than ever before (the whole album). Despite this variety, it’s also their most cohesive work and it’s pretty clear that they owe that to finally truly working together as a band towards a singular goal.

As a scene founded and based on the internet – home of trolls, whiners and self-entitled fans – I’m not sure if Juggernaut is the masterpiece the djent scene deserves, but it’s definitely the masterpiece it wants – and desperately needs.


Jón writer banner Jan 2015