Periphery just keeps getting better and better. Despite leaving Sumerian records and releasing their sixth album, ‘Hail Stan’, on their own label, Periphery takes the sound they established on ‘Select Difficulty’ to new heights.
Opening with “Reptile”, an almost 17 minute long song, Periphery immediately demonstrates why they’re one of the best progressive metal bands. Fitting an unbelievable range of styles into a single song the length of an EP is a great feat, and, most impressively, it’s engaging the entire time. Spencer’s experimentation with eviler sounding vocals also paid off big time.
“Blood Eagle” became one of my top five favorite Periphery songs after only a couple listens. It’s one of the heaviest tracks they’ve ever made and it’s overflowing with anger. Periphery has always been pretty heavy, but this is a new type of aggression from them.
They follow it up with “Chvrch Bvrner”, another favorite that pushes the band into an even faster, heavier arena. It’s quite possibly the most intense song they’ve written and it plays up to the darker atmosphere the band said ‘Hail Stan’ would have. The pseudo satanic song name further amplifies the chaotic mood.
“Garden In The Bones” eases off the intensity and reintroduces the type of clean choruses that made me love ‘Select Difficulty’. I especially like Spencer’s harsher cleans because they compliment the grittier style of this album. Periphery continues to soften as they reach “It’s Only Smiles”, a song that radiates happiness and envelops you in light despite it’s heavy lyrical content (Spencer wrote it about his older sister who passed away).
The smooth transition from their darkest material to their most uplifting over the course of three songs is a testament to how skilled their songwriting is. As the listener you have no idea where Periphery is leading you, but you know you won’t be disappointed by the adventure. Spencer’s vocals continue to improve with each album and he is surrounded by musicians who have absolutely mastered their craft. The solos, wild time signatures, and overall atmosphere are exactly what long-time fans have come to expect and Periphery did not disappoint.
“Sentient Glow” is basically a remake of a Haunted Shores’ song (a band that has multiple Periphery members in it). It was made many years ago so it’s not surprising that that it’s more similar to Periphery’s second album. It’s a neat throwback, but I like their most recent style more.
“Satellites” is an epic close to the album and is one of Spencer’s best vocal performances to date. I get a soaring sensation listening to it and it imparts in you a nostalgic appreciation for the good times and the bad. It’s one of the most emotional songs they’ve created so far and the peaks and valleys it takes you through leave you on the edge of your seat.
As usual, Periphery has a few hidden Easter eggs waiting for listeners to discover. Some are serious, like how the melody at 12:10 in “Reptile” also appears in “Garden In The Bones”, and some are in keeping with the band’s “meme” persona. They’ve always let their sense of humor shine through and it gives their music a personal touch. Some of my favorites include putting Baphomet on the album cover and then naming it ‘Hail Stan’ to mess with the “Hail Satan” people, the line introducing “Reptiles” that says “there must be something in the water (besides fluoride and shit)”, and finishing this incredible 64 minute album with a one second clip saying “suck my balls”.
‘Hail Stan’ is 63 minutes long and packed with exciting content from one of the best bands in the game. Personally, I like the first half more because it’s heavier, but the second half has wonderful moments as well. There’s no doubt that ‘Hail Stan’ has some of the band’s best work yet which is extremely promising for fans who never get tired of being blown away by what they do next.