There are definitely too many bands to keep track of when you are in the music industry. I’ve often come into a band many albums after they first made their start just due to sheer numbers of bands I’m keeping up with between big label names we all know, newer label names, and locals aiming for the big time. But some of the bands I hear about but just don’t get to them right away. Such is the case for Periphery. A band I’ve heard about for years but haven’t had a chance to really dig into until now. And of course I pick when they decide to release two albums; Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega.
The first thing I need to touch on is that Periphery has said this is not a double album. Unlike when System of a Down gave us Hypnotize and Mesmerize or more recently Five Finger Death Punch giving us The Wrong Side of Heaven and The Righteous Side of Hell Volume 1 and Volume 2. Periphery does hope that people will purchase both and listen to both in close proximity but it’s not mandatory. You don’t need to listen to Juggernaut: Alpha in order to listen to Juggernaut: Omega or vice versa.
While they are two separate albums I’m going to continue on to discuss both as opposed to doing one versus the other. Simply because it’s easier that way and they don’t feel like two different albums. After listening to Alpha and Omega I feel they’re more like one album then two. Unlike Five Finger Death Punch‘s latest where Volume 1 sounded and felt different than Volume 2 of The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell. Both parts of Juggernaut feel like they’re one album.
Their musicianship as a band really shines on some of the tracks. “Psychosphere” (Alpha) truly shows the dynamics Periphery has. There’s a lot going on without feeling like there is as much going on. Spencer Sotelo’s vocals set things up perfectly and the breakdowns flow smoothly. But at the same time there’s parts of Juggernaut where I was almost completely tempted to turn it off. “Gravless” (Omega) literally sounds like no one could agree on who plans when on the song. It’s like a wreck at NASCAR. Not to mention the nearly inaudible lyrics.
But again theirs saving graces. The guitars in “Priestess” (Omega) are absolutely amazing. The melodies show that there’s more to their trio of Misha Mansoor, Jake Bowen, and Mark Holcomb than the randomness that is on some of the other tracks. The riffs in this particular track make me wonder why the focus so much on the randomness on other tracks.
Plus Spencer’s actual singing voice is way better than his screaming. Yes I know it’s for emphasis. But there’s just too many points where they don’t feel right as they’re just there versus being a chorus or even a chorus lead in. It’s dropped in as a few words or one sentence then back to singing and it just doesn’t work to me. And you might say it’s just me “hating” but I’m used to and enjoy the juxtaposition of singing and screaming from bands like Miss May I and A Need For Reason. The difference is theirs are understandable and placed properly.
Periphery is definitely a band that is going to be around for many years. But truth be told Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega are just going off in too many directions. I’m all for progressive but there are times on these albums where even Dream Theater would be confused of what’s going on. If you’re a Periphery fan you might be into these albums or you might not. Decide for yourself but I think there’s still a few things they need the figure out.