For the last few years, Periphery have been virtual figureheads of the progressive and technical metal scenes, growing in popularity and notoriety over time. They practically invented the entire "djent" subgenre, but just as quickly as the sound has picked up steam, it seems they've jumped off the bandwagon.
Instead, they'll release a double album in January, one half titled Juggernaut: Alpha and the other titled Juggernaut: Omega. It's a collective project, rather than being written solely by guitarist Misha Mansoor as previous albums were, and it's a concept album. More importantly, the first single, "The Scourge," shows them charting a completely new musical path as well.
Where previous releases have focused on the more metal aspects of their sound, featuring heavy riffage and death metal growls, "The Scourge" eschews those elements almost completely for a progressive, theatrical sound. It begins slow and atmospheric, with almost ethereal sounds introducing singer Spencer Sotelo.
For most of the track, Sotelo only employs his fantastic scream a little bit, instead focusing on soulful singing over a dark, doomy riff in the background. Sure, there's heavy drumming going on here, but this is all more about the sound they are creating than riffage. "The Scourge" is maybe the first time the band has composed a track that is a winding journey, rather than a metal headbanger.
It isn't until three minutes in that we even hear guitarist's Mansoor's signature djent riffs, which come in to offer the song a rock out section towards the end. The build towards the headbanging though is so perfect and seamless that one could be forgiven for not even noticing the change in guitar tone.
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One has to wonder if this is an indication of the direction of the Juggernaut double album. I have to assume the album will have more rock out moments and headbanging djent tracks, but this is one of the most interesting twists the band has ever put on their sound. To release "The Scourge" as the first single from the LP is basically staking their flag down in new territory and warning fans this won't be the same Periphery heard on their first two albums.
This is one of the best tracks the band has composed yet, and it breaks free of what is becoming more and more of an overused sound. Even as the inventors of djent, they had to realize it was time to move on as the metal world has become saturated with the fruits of their labor. With "The Scourge," we hear Periphery finding their own way in a world that just has too much djent in it.
Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega will both be released on January 27th, but we'll get a preview here in Houston when Periphery stop at the House of Blues this Saturday, January 17th for their Juggernaut tour. Be sure to catch them and see what this new sound is all about, because if it's anything like "The Scourge," we're in for something special.