A year in the making, ‘Periphery IV: Hail Stan’ sees the progressive metal/djent quintet Periphery with no limitations. Re-uniting with former bassist Adam Getgood on production duties amongst other roles, expansive influences converge with crushing riffs over the course of nine tracks.
Opening with their longest offering to date, ‘Reptile’ doesn’t waste a moment of its runtime, legato and staccato strings fight respectfully before percussive guitars run rampant across swelling atmospherics. Switching from bludgeoning riffs to soaring choruses, groove tinged breakdowns and ambient passages; the track encompasses multiple facets of the group.
Each member pushes themselves to their limits, granted the group is known for it virtuoso tendencies, but each song is dense with techniques that will delight budding musicians yet they serve the purpose of the composition. The aforementioned track may jump through near enough every subgenre of metal, but by using re-occurring motifs and an impressive control of dynamics, it doesn’t feel disjointed.
‘It’s Only Smiles’ takes the song writing strengths of the group and displays them proudly. Rhythmic patterns take a back seat, with lead harmonies working in tandem with muted chord voicings, courtesy of guitarists Misha Mansoor, Mark Holcomb, and Jake Bowen. The space gained in the track allows frontman Spencer Sotelo to create tension with an impressively dynamic vocal range. Utilising octave chords, gang vocals, and a bouncing chord progression, the track elevates itself quickly.
With Bowen handling synth duties on top of guitars, ‘Church’ descends smoothly from unrelenting galloping riffs to a glitch hop inspired coda, backed up by Matt Halpern‘s intricate drum patterns. The dominant display of electronica can be felt on ‘Crush’, taking on new-wave, industrial, and groove metal effortlessly. It stands on its own amongst the heavier moments of the record.
The same can be said for ‘Sentient Glow’, a cut that sees the group return with collaborator Randy Slaugh. Navigating through piano led verses, tense strings, and angular riffs, yet again, the track sits comfortably alongside the final track, ‘Satellites’.
Starting tentatively and evolving into a frenetic burst of bending riffs and furious drum patterns, the claustrophobic offering is a new avenue for the group. From starting the record by improving on their previous sound, ‘Satellites’ finalises the journey with a fresh soundscape.
‘Hail Stan’ is Periphery on their own terms. Self-assured, textured, and a behemoth of a record, it’s a release that demands repeat listens.