April 1, 2019 Periphery – Periphery IV: Hail Stan (Album Review)
Ladies and Djents, in Progressive Metal, few bands hold quite the same level of esteem as Periphery. Prepared to live up to their stellar reputation, the band deliver Periphery IV: Hail Stan on Friday, April 5, 2019 via their own 3DOT Recordings.
Hailing from Washington, D.C., the capital city known for its politics, the Grammy-nominated Periphery formed in 2005. The now-quintet, once sextet, would help to pioneer the Djent technique with the release of their debut, self-titled disc in 2010. Progenitors, the band would go on to release an additional four albums and two EPs over the next six years, ranging from 2011’s The Icarus Lives EP to 2016’s Periphery III: Select Difficulty.
Not every band can grace the covers of Guitar World, Revolver, Modern Drummer, and Bass Player, along with the pages of Rolling Stone and Alternative Press. For these tireless road dogs, anything is possible! Throughout their impressive career, Periphery has managed to share stages with a wide array of bands, including Deftones, Dream Theater, Nothing More, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Darkest Hour, Animals as Leaders, TesseracT, and many, many more. Oh yes, and they have their own summer camp: Periphery Summer Jam.
For Periphery IV: Hail Stan — which is a joking play on the iconic Metal cheer of “Hail Satan” — the band get dark. For their sixth full-length, Periphery — Vocalist Spencer Sotelo, Guitarists Jake Bowen, Mark Holcomb, and Misha Mansoor, as well as Drummer Matt Halpern — took a year to work on new material and really hone their craft. Working alongside longtime band member Adam “Nolly” Getgood, who left the band in 2017 but served as a session bassist for the album as well as engineer and mixer, the quintet self-produced their latest 9-song epic. The album also features orchestration and a choir arranged by another longtime collaborator, Randy Slaugh.
Periphery IV: Hail Stan opens with the nearly 17-minute “Reptile,” which features additional vocals from Mikee Goodman of SikTH. Strings build into drums and Sotelo’s vocals, eventually exploding into the hard-rocking track that meanders through hills and valleys to take its listeners on an epic journey. One of those offerings that must be experienced to be fully understood, we’ll say this: its thump is dark, its guitars are ominous, there’s spoken word, and something is clearly in the water.
Next up, Periphery explode into the blasting assault of the Viking-themed “Blood Eagle.” Coincidentally, the line “With drums beating, screams repeating and the hammer force of Thor” is the perfect, poetic explanation for the track, which soars like an eagle above the Norwegian sea. Pummeling bass and those expert guitars flesh out the sonic glory that is written in the name of Valkyries and Valhalla.
Sotelo digs deep with his gutturals to lead the band into the incendiary (pun intended) yet entirely infectious “CHVRCH BVRNER,” which ultimately fades out to some impressive electronics and a dance beat. Meanwhile, Getgood’s bass licks strut into the equally catchy “Garden in the Bones.” Fraught with Native American references and bold visuals of the land that was stripped away and stampeded upon by ignorant fools like buffalo, this is yet another thoughtful moment for Periphery and their endless metaphorical content.
Turning toward a more melodic approach, the quintet saunter into the longing of “It’s Only Smiles” before reverting back to inspiring headbanging on “Follow Your Ghost.” The converse of its predecessor, the track initially serves as a return to fat bass and infernal blackness, though it ultimately shifts and flows into something else entirely — including that aforementioned choir.
Synths anchor “Crush,” a dichotomy that presents practically danceable sonics while Sotelo sings of the loss of dignity and the epic fall of mankind. This culminates in cinematic strings that weave an ultimately Hitchcockian dance, like a built-in interlude that gives birth to “Sentient Glow.” Originally an offering from Holcomb and Mansoor’s side project, Haunted Shores, this reworking blends clean verses with more vicious choruses; you know, the reverse of the standard approach these days. Soaring vocals are echoed by soaring, racing guitar work to create a track that will make you feel fully alive! Triumphant finale, “Satellites,” clocks in at just over 9 minutes of fully melodic, entirely infectious ponderings of the heart and the mind.
Let’s face it, Periphery IV: Hail Stan is all killer, no filler. Each of its nine tracks display the care and intricate detail that one would expect from Periphery, so there’s really nothing shocking inside. A soaring collection full of lengthy, epic tracks that delve deep and offer intelligent lyrics and a technical proficiency that is rarely rivaled, Periphery use their latest to prove that there’s a reason they are so well-respected in Metal. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give Periphery’s Periphery IV: Hail Stan 5 of 5 stars.