Periphery – ‘V: Djent Is Not A Genre’

By Dave Stewart

Ever since their humble beginnings almost two decades ago, Periphery have been pushing, bending, stretching and smashing genre boundaries into a sound that is musically technical and seriously crushing, but also bright, colourful and at times, eclectic. As time progressed, that cocktail ended up being given a name – djent. From the penning of that term onwards, alongside other artists like Textures and Tesseract, the band have been regarded as pioneers of djent. But their newest album, their highly anticipated fifth full length, is called ‘Djent Is Not A Genre’. I beg your pardon?

If djent doesn’t actually exist, then what have we been hearing all these years? What about all the other bands that fall into that category? What happens now? Is life just one big lie? This is sort of like the metal version of the chicken and the egg argument, but in order to really dive into this album, it’s not about what came first. This is both the chicken and the egg. Treat this record as a new beginning altogether. This is a Periphery album that you simply cannot associate with djent, no matter how badly you want to, and guess what? It’s still, unsurprisingly, a really good album. 

Opening the album with ‘Wildfire’ plunges you straight into their thought process for this record and gives you a rough sketch of what to expect from the rest of it. Immediately surrounding you with towering palm-muted chugs, discordant harmonics and throat-shredding screams, it explodes into that soaring chorus, simmers down to stripped back jazz and saxophone worship, then re-explodes into blast beat-accompanied chugs. There’s a lot going on – I mean, it’s Periphery, of course there is – and yet it all flows in and out of the foreground like a dandelion in a breeze; you’re not sure what direction it’s going in next, but you can’t take your eyes off of it.

There’s some of the band’s heaviest ever material on display here. The bludgeoning and sporadic chaos buried within ‘Everything Is Fine’ is a real blood fizzer and floods memories of The Dillinger Escape Plan into the fray. The groove-heavy and instantly headbangable ‘Zagreus’ has a similar effect, that intro riff nodding at Meshuggah before shapeshifting into anthemic arena-sized melodies complete with an incredibly tasteful solo. The sunnier side of their sound is leant into often, too – the opening section of ‘Wax Wings’ is a glistening delight that evolves into an indulgent epic, and ‘Silhouette’ is an almost lo-fi synthwave number that comes as a surprise, but a very welcome one that serves as a sort of mid-point breather. The biggest triumphs here, though, are in the two closing tracks.

First up is ‘Dracul Gras’. A track that sits at a little over twelve minutes, full of tech metal madness, complex polyrhythms, ominous vocal shrieks and melodies, spacious atmospheric passages, blistering shred and so much more, and it’s all brilliantly done. Second is ‘Thanks Nobuo’, a brighter affair that’s closer to the eleven minutes mark that juxtaposes the darkness of the previous track, but is just as elaborate and beautifully paced. Both these tracks alone are almost as long as some band’s full records, but at no point are you thinking about how long the song is or when it’s going to end. Your attention is held for the entire track length, and that’s a seriously impressive feat. They were already good songwriters, but they’ve really tapped into something special on this record.

There’s no filler, no interludes, no tracks that feel like a misstep or an experiment gone wrong – it’s a collection of hard hitting and well-thought out songs. Like most progressive records, this all makes most sense when listened to in its entirety, but there’s just something really magical about this in that every song is strong enough to stand on its own. This is the band that you already know, undoubtedly so, but they sound so much more together. They’re so calculated, precise and assured on this album, and it’s affected how the music sounds in such a positive way. 

If Periphery, a band that most heavy music fanatics would say are tightly tied to the djent genre, are in fact saying that djent isn’t a genre, then maybe it isn’t, y’know? I mean, who knows better than them? Don’t invent a new genre for their music, don’t say “oh but it is djent though”, maybe don’t even try to pigeonhole it at all. Just accept this album for what it is, which is a metallic musical marvel.

A magnificent spectacle of epic proportions, this record makes an incredibly bold and powerful statement. Djent is over, and Periphery have been reborn.


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