27th January 2015 – Sumerian Records/Century Media
02. The Bad Thing
05. Hell Below
07. Stranger Things
You’ve got to hand it to Periphey: they deliver. Juggernaut is exactly what it says on the tin, even if the band didn’t realise how perfect a title it would be when they named it. There’s 80+ minutes-worth of material across two albums, and that’s a lot to get through.
Thankfully my colleague Jón took on the duties for Juggernaut Alpha, leaving me with its twin Juggernaut: Omega; a record which sees the six-piece sail full-pelt into the waters of traditional prog.
Omega is an album with two clear sides to it. It blends balls-out Periphery – the solo in “The Bad Thing“; the massive groove of “Stranger Things” – with more experimentation and deviation from the Periphery sound than ever before. They’ve expanded their template, keeping with the same virtuosity and nailed-on performances from previous records – you only have to watch any members’ performance videos, or Misha’s recording walkthroughs to see this – but it’s the diversity that marks this as a notch above its peers.
The acoustic intro to “Priestess” is an example of this. Sure, it’s not groundbreaking, but it shows that the band are willing and capable to deviate from their comfort zone and deliver fresh facets – to their music at least – meshing them with the rhythmic formula of the genre. Whilst some of Sotelo’s phrasing in the track jars a bit, it’s nitpicking to the extreme.
Whilst there’s a lot of experimentation, Periphery’s playful humour is more than present. A rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star“‘s intro leads “Hell Below” into “Omega“, morphing from an upbeat piano into sci-fi synth, and finally a heavy, energetic riff. This pairing is probbly some of the most disgustingly heavy material that the band have yet put out. Both deliver the promised darker tone in spades; they’re dirty and full of malice. “Omega” has barely a clean vocal for the first five of its hefty 11+ minute run time – before it’s back into noodly prog territory. It’s a beast of a track, but you’ll likely not find yourself tiring of it at any point. Switches between the two styles are handled masterfully, and there are times where the level of bounce is equivalent to riding a space hopper on a trampoline.
Sometimes it feels like it’s too good. That sounds ridiculous I know, but across the two records there’s such a lot of good material that it’s hard to remember everything; it’s hard to take it all in. As a fan of short-form releases, I realise this is totally my cross to bear, but I feel that, if release separately say, six months apart like System Of A Down‘s Mezmerize/Hypnotize or The Ocean‘s Heliocentric/Anthropocentric, each would get the attention it deserves. You kind of feel obligated to listen to both back to back, and society is so fast paced – and our attention spans so short – that long long albums are a luxury.
Luxurious is right though. Everything is spot on, and if Juggernaut isn’t considered magnum opus – for both the band and the wider scene – there really is no pleasing some people.
Don’t forget to read the review of Juggernaut: Alpha here!