Album Review: Periphery – Hail Stan

Periphery’s latest record Periphery IV: Hail Stan comes crafted after over a yearlong length of accumulating ideas, tracking and perfecting their craft. To think that this is the first time they’ve done this in their impressive 13-year career, which includes Grammy Award nominated tracks, sold-out tours worldwide and music that has consistently pushed the boundaries of modern metal, could only mean one thing to me… Even crazier, limit-pushing, and more intense music than ever!

The title of the album, shows the comical side the quintet love to display, however do not make the mistake of thinking this album being a complete troll in the face of the band’s critics. This album possesses their heaviest material yet whilst still perfectly balancing the soaring and sweet melodic passages we have come to associate Periphery with.

Having recently left Sumerian Records in the pursuit of freedom and more control over their own material via their own record label, 3DOT Recordings, what better way to open the album with a 16-minute winding adventure of a track titled “Reptile”. Guitarist Mark laughs:

Who begins a record with a 16-minute track? We could finally do that because we call the shots with our own label. It felt liberating. There were no rules.

The track features exhilarating rhythmic grooves off the back of a mighty orchestral prominent intro. This track exemplifies the band’s penchant for progression, as it hits melodic heights, heavy depths and everywhere in between.

The second track on the album is the single “Blood Eagle” which can only be described as Viking-infused filth. This track appropriately tortures the listener, attacking their senses with suspenseful build ups and mammoth releases. The track is unrelentingly and uncompromisingly heavy, and in my opinion is Periphery’s heaviest track to date. The choral passages give this track an eerie chill, whilst vocalist Spencer’s screams are spot on.

The satanic vibes off the record do not stop. The third track, titled “CHVRCH BVRNVR”, features frenzied blast-beats by drummer Matt and colossal chugs on the guitars. The second verse features frantic guitars similar to riffs first heard on Periphery’s debut album. This turbo boosted track clocks in at 3 mins 40 secs which is the shortest track on the record with the outro featuring Jake’s signature electronic sounds.

The second single released by the band and the fourth track off the record is “Garden in the Bones”. By the track title one would assume sustaining of the dark theme established in the first three tracks, however, this track is one by which best sums up Periphery in my opinion. Moments of intense heavy riffs, hypnotic singing by Spencer, a very lush clean bridge section and a huge sounding chorus. This song ties together everything Periphery does best in just under six minutes.

“It Only Smiles” is one of the brighter and uplifting sounding tracks on the record. It opens with a killer riff that is sustained throughout the track and showcases the cleaner side of Spencer’s vocals very well. The track also features a very tasteful solo and an expansive range of synths and other instrumentation that has become a feature of Periphery’s music over the last couple records.

The sixth track on the album “Follow Your Ghost” opens with another huge hitting riff. This track demonstrates the consistency of the darker side of their music. Only past halfway into the track do we hear some cleaner vocals, which have a chant-like feel to them, amongst some unholy sounding piano and strings. The track is topped off with an appropriately winding solo.

“Crush” has to be a stand out track for me due to its industrial metal like timbre. It was certainly different to anything Periphery had done, and after a few listens really grew on me! The way the drums had been combined with electronic samples really gave it that industrial vibe! It was like listening to Periphery from the year 2119… The track finished off with an eerie string outer-lude like it had been plucked out of the early 20th century expressionist movement. It’s fair to say Periphery do whatever they want, and they do it well!

The penultimate track “Sentient Glow” will be familiar to fans of Misha and Mark’s side project Haunted Shores. But what might not be familiar is that “Sentient Glow” was the track that Spencer auditioned to when joining the band. Having been very familiar with the instrumental version it was satisfying to me to hear it completed, after almost a decade of it being released. The track features Mark’s signature style of riffs and the reworked version finished off with a solemn ending of strings and clean guitars.

The final track on the album “Satellites” is one of my personal favourites. The near ten-minute closer saw the musicians sit together in a room with practice amps in the centre and perform face-to-face – a technique implemented on “Lune” from their previous record. I didn’t think the raw feeling and emotion off “Lune” could be topped or more intense, but Periphery have outdone themselves here.

All in all, I think Periphery have put out their best record to date and I can’t wait to see the new tracks performed live! Over the decade I’ve listened to them for, they have really matured and defined their sound and modern progressive metal would not be the same without their influence.

Hail Stan is available April 5th through all major digital outlets

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