“This is definitely still a Periphery album, though it’s got a lot more substance reflective of what we do as a unit,” says Jake Bowen, guitarist of Washington, D.C.-based progressive metal outfit Periphery, about the band’s upcoming full-length release, This Time It’s Personal
The brainchildren of lead guitarist, programmer, and producer Misha Mansoor, Periphery’s first two releases – 2010’s self-titled, full-length debut and 2011’s Icarus EP – predominantly comprised Mansoor’s solitary compositions with each member performing his respective parts; however, on This Time It’s Personal, Bowen elaborates, the writing process was far more collaborative, drawing equal bits of input from each musician – Mansoor, Bowen, Matt Halpern (drums, percussion), Mark Holcomb (guitar), Adam “Nolly” Getgood (bass guitar), and Spencer Sotelo (vocals).
As Bowen notes, the band’s latest offers the same innovative brand of engagingly complex metal as its predecessors though it’s delivered in an audibly more cohesive and mature manner. Owing to influence from iconoclasts like Meshuggah, Dream Theater, and Sikth, the record’s 14 tracks abandon conventional song structure, instead adapting a more linear and lucid cinematic quality that quite simply demands an attentive ear. Simply put, This Time It’s Personal features the band’s richest and most alluring material to-date.
Recorded at Oceanic Studios by Taylor Larson and produced by Mansoor and Getgood, the album combines foiling elements like scattered and spastic time signatures with a driving rhythmic foundation; spacey and textured guitar leads atop mercilessly punishing low-end riffing; or the band’s furious and fast attack backing Sotelo’s melodic, often sultry sung passages. And while each member exudes masterful musicianship, their individual virtuosity never steals from the song it supports. “We’re writing for the song,” Bowen states clearly, “and not to showcase anything just for the sake of showcasing.”
And as with previous releases, it’s not just the group’s core members contributing to the epic nature of the offering. This Time It’s Personal benefits from guest guitar solos by revered axemen Guthrie Govan on “Have A Blast”, Wes Hauch of The Faceless on “Mile Zero”, and Dream Theater’s John Petrucci on “Erised.”
The band’s attention to tonality carries over to the stage where the goal is always to deliver an accurate yet energetic and engaging performance. “We want the experience and sound to properly represent who we are as a band,” Bowen says of the bottom line.
That’s the same regardless of who else is sharing the stage, as the band’s rich tapestry of influences and sounds has seen them share bills with everything from death and black metal to metalcore to less-aggressive post-rock projects without ever being out-of-place.
That chameleon-like quality is largely the product of the Periphery’s disassociation with any particular scene – a conscious effort to keep their music pure and free of any superfluous influence. And while the rest of 2012 will see the band touring extensively in support of their latest effort, they’ll have a chance to expand on those ideals with their next release. With writing already underway, the band’s next offering will be a concept album, though one that strays from the genre’s typical clichés.
It’ll be an ambitious undertaking, though that’s a trait that defines everything fans have heard from Periphery thus far, and currently, the apex of that ambition and creativity is loaded into This Time It’s Personal and ready to indulge curiosity.
Periphery’s now-signature pristine production style only heightens the potency of the material. “We all obsess over tones, whether it’s the individual instruments or how they’re mixed,” Bowen explains. “That style is really the essence of the Periphery sound,” and that’s more than evident on This Time It’s Personal