The process of innovation doesn’t sit still or sleep. Instead, it relies on constant motion. In 2015, Periphery landed two albums in the Top 20 of Billboard’s Top 200 chart as Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega respectively bowed at #15 and #16 during the same week. Meanwhile, the intertwined conceptual epic garnered praise from Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Outburn, and more. Only months after the release, the Washington, D.C. progressive metal disruptors—Misha Mansoor [guitars, programming], Jake Bowen [guitar, programming, backing vocals], Matt Halpern [drums], Spencer Sotelo [lead vocals], Mark Holcomb [guitars], and Adam “Nolly” Getgood [studio bass, guitars, programming]—collectively decided to start creating what would become their 2016 full-length, Periphery III: Select Difficulty [Sumerian Records].
“We ended up with a bit of downtime, so we wrote,” explains Misha. “We’re always working on ideas, and you want to bring them to life when you can. We saw a window of opportunity where we had a little bit of space in the schedule, and we thought, ‘Let’s get to work on new music.’ Juggernaut was so long and comparatively stressful. It took six months. Initially, we decided to try and make an EP. Everybody was down with that. With this fresh start, we were all hooked. This was our first stress-free experience. The time crunch actually helped it become the most cohesive too. It all turned into Periphery III.”
“We write what we feel,” adds Jake. “It came together very naturally. Normally, we stick to the cycle of put out an album, tour for a year, and then record another album. This time, we felt an itch and just kept moving forward.”
Forward progression defines Periphery’s trajectory. Since the release of 2010’s self-titled debut, the band has covered magazines such as Guitar World, Revolver, Modern Drummer, Bass Player, and more. Boasting a relentless touring ethic, they’ve packed venues on bills with everyone from Deftones and Dream Theater to Between The Buried and Me. In addition to performing at festivals such as Rock on the Range, Chicago Open Air, Download, and more, the musicians lead their own summer camp: the “Periphery Summer Jam.”
Going into their latest offering, the boys would continue to embrace that evolutionary spirit. Expanding the sonic palette, Misha bought a Moog synthesizer and incorporated it into the framework of the album. He also drew from orchestral libraries to infuse a cinematic scope.
“I wanted to get the hang of synthesis and learn how to use it a little better,” he remarks. “I didn’t expect it to be on the record, but now it’s on every song! The orchestration really adds something as well.”
Periphery III kickstarts on the chugging smash of the first single “The Price Is Wrong.” Driven by an artillery of neck-snapping guitars and a stunning groove, it immediately sets the record’s tone.
“It’s like handing somebody a grenade,” smiles Jake. “It’s so in-your-face and brutal for us. It was a great way to start.”
“Every one of our albums has a nice long intro, and we were like, ‘Let’s kick this off with a drum fill and a pissed-off riff,’” laughs Misha. “It’s something we haven’t done. It was fun.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the seven minute-plus closer “Lune” marks a first for Periphery. The sweeping orchestral climax actually saw its genesis during a jam in Misha’s apartment.
“It’s a special one for a number of reasons,” admits Misha. “We’re attached to it. We literally never jam, so we did the next best thing at my place. I setup all of the amps and pedals. Matt was drumming on his legs, and we started playing one by one. It was such a cool experiment. It’s a love song.”
“Remain Indoors” unloads a striking sonic schizophrenia, while “Flatline” showcases a precision polyrhythmic pummeling evocative of the band’s most beloved sonic hallmarks.
“It’s a killer,” Jake goes on. “We actually tracked the first three riffs backstage in Pittsburgh on tour. We never get to do that. It’s broken up into two sections with this normal Periphery energy and this mysterious build-up at the end.”
Once again, Misha and “Nolly” spearheaded production and engineering. Another change occurred following recording though, when “Nolly” announced he would remain a studio member based back home in the UK, but no longer tour in order to focus on his production work and family.
“He’ll still be there and write with us,” affirms Misha. “He’s such an important part of the process. We don’t want to change that dynamic. We have him where he’s most important.”
“He’s a good friend and a brother, and he brings something to this music nobody else can,” agrees Jake.
Charging full speed ahead, Periphery continue to make seismic impact with Periphery III: Select Difficulty.
“I hope everyone thinks this is fun and enjoyable to listen to,” Misha leaves off. “We enjoyed making it, and I still love listening to it. We want to share that.”
“I’m so happy with how it came out,” concludes Jake. “This is Periphery being Periphery. This is all we know how to do.”