Review: Periphery V: Djent Is Not A Genre Subverts Expectations
“Djent” band Periphery had the seemingly herculean task of creating a follow-up to 2019’s Hail Stan, a record acclaimed by most listeners. Seriously, how do you top that album? After spending some with the self-aware group’s seventh record Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre, it’s obvious that Periphery is at the top of their game, pulling even harder on its strengths while subverting expectations in ways never thought possible. It’s a record that feels brutally heavy while dipping its toes in a variety of genres (definitely not djent, though), highlighting the skills of each band member along the way.
Kicking off with the unbelievably catchy “Wildfire,” the band delivers chunky riff after riff with tiny references to past Periphery tracks like “Blood Eagle” before pulling the rug out from under you with an absurd jazz section in the middle of it all. This is easily one of the best tracks on the record due to its variety and off-the-wall implementation of different sounds.
The mix of synth and low-tuned guitars on “Atropos” is a match made in heaven (hell?), fitting nicely alongside a sweeping guitar solo by Misha Mansoor. Frontman Spencer Sotelo is a master vocalist on all tracks, but this specific song truly shows his breadth, not just in terms of pure vocal skill, but as a lyricist as well: “Isn’t it funny how much better we seem to get off when dwe’re locked in with a superficial hole?”
Other songs like “Silhouette” would feel almost odd and out of place if they weren’t executed so well – throwing heaviness out the door in favor of a more pop synth-driven listening experience. It’s as if the band wanted to flex its chops as musicians while offering a reprieve from the nearly wall-to-wall heaviness found in other tracks.
Periphery treats us to not one – but two – 11+ minute-long songs on this record. The first of which is “Dracul Gras,” a spooky face-melter with easily the best breakdown on the entire record. Seriously, if this one doesn’t give you the stank face, nothing will.
Then, “Thanks Nobuo” is an incredibly beautiful arrangement, featuring impressive drumming by Matt Halpern that feels simultaneously approachable and impossible. This 11-minute-long epic closes the record with an atmospheric, electronic section that sounds like an explosion of happiness.
As expected, the mixing and production values on Djent Is Not a Genre are top-notch, as each and every heart-pounding bass drum hits like a truck, while every other instrument sounds just right in conjunction with the others. Mixing is oftentimes an overlooked quality when done right, but when it’s done poorly, you absolutely notice.
Djent Is Not A Genre excels in many ways, but it’s hard to ignore its underlying sense of theatrics. Massive choirs, whimsical vocal delivery, moody electronic sections, and even a part that sounds like a cinema score at the end of “Zagreus” all work together to give this record a theatrical touch – even more so than other Periphery works.
Djent might not be a genre, but this record is wholly representative of the colloquial subcategory, punching you in the face with low-tuned guitars and odd time signatures, while mixing in countless surprises along the way. Djent Is Not a Genre is a phenomenal representation of what Periphery can do, offering fun and undeniable heaviness throughout.
Periphery’s Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre releases on March 10 via 3DOT Recordings. Pre-order the record here, and check out “Wildfire“ below.