1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 163

Periphery II, by Periphery
Suggested by Todd Beckett

I like films. I also like movies. They are not the same thing.

There’s a sliding scale between the two definitions, but at the extreme ends I’d categorise them as this: A film is art, while a movie is product. A film can be pregnant with intellectual worth and value, while a movie is a throwaway consumable. Or if you like, a film can be as dull as ditchwater, while a movie can be a popcorn-chomping thrill-ride.

Let’s look at examples. I’ll start with an easy one.

Citizen Kane? A film. Fast & Furious 9? A movie.

Mean Streets? A film. Mean Girls? A movie.

The Godfather? A film. Bruce Almighty? A movie.

It’s not always clear cut, of course, but there is a line. Where would you put Trainspotting, for instance? Or Pixar’s Up? Me, that’s Film and Movie respectively, but your mileage may vary. The director may sway your decision, but even then it’s not clear. Tarantino makes films, but From Dusk ‘til Dawn? Spielberg makes movies, but Schindler’s List? And of course, there’s definitely space for both Films and Movies. Sometimes you want to be artistically stimulated, and other times you want to see a robot punch a dinosaur.

There’s a similar disconnect with some spheres of music. In place of Film and Movie, there’s Music and Song. Not quite as neat a distinction, but an adequate one.

Periphery, the progressive metal act from Washington DC, are firmly in the Music camp. While I enjoyed a vast amount of this album, apart from some obvious things I’ll mention later, It was more through an appreciation of craft than through the creation of anything that caused a more base and lasting connection. It was decent, but I couldn’t hum you a single track.

I think this is an issue with Prog in general. While I’m warming to it as the albums roll by, it’s still an intellectual attraction rather than an emotional one. The intricate guitar solos that overlay the “djent” sound, the controlled yet explosive drums, the soaring and harmonious vocals, all combine to create something of great dexterity, but of little lasting impression. (“Djent”, by the way, is a subset of Prog Metal which is categorised by the high-gain, distorted, palm-muted low-pitch guitar sound, which is named onomatopoeically.  The guitar goes djent-djent-djent. Every day’s a school day!)

The most memorable aspect of Periphery II is likely the skill of the vocalist. When not succumbing to the dark side, his mastery of pitch and clarity of delivery is on point, with shattering highs and sultry lows tackled with confidence and aplomb. Sadly, he also possessed a variety of screaming growls which, while articulated well, still serve to cause my eyes to roll and my ears to shrivel and die. So when the songs goes light on the growl, such as in my standout Ji, I’m more aligned to admiration. When it’s more crunchy-growly, such as in Ragnarok, I’m liable to flip a table and stomp away.

Periphery II was pleasant enough. It gained a few points through the skill of the vocalist, but lost a few points for the choices of the vocalist.  While I appreciated the music, I didn’t really differentiate the songs. I’ll give it 6/10.

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