REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Intriguing and engaging experimental release from prog-metallers Periphery

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

It’s easy to dismiss Clear as a stop-gap in Periphery’s career as the wait for album no.3 goes on, but that does this seven-track offering a rather large disservice.


Periphery - Clear (28/01)

Based on a melody established in the opening Overture, Clear is made up of tracks with a variation on that theme written by each of the band’s 6 members. Perhaps more of an EEP than anything else, it’s an exciting concept, allowing for some interesting styles to flourish and offers great variation in tone. It’s not the most cohesive record as a result, and the quality can dip at times, but as an experiment and another example of Periphery’s ability to create engaging progressive metal, it’s more than worthwhile. The piano-led theme established in the aforementioned Overture acts as something of a suggestion for the songs that follow as opposed to a mandate, meaning that Clear might require a few listens to reveal its location in each song. There are clear flashes of it in the chorus of guitarist Jake Bowen’s The Summer Jam; a jagged, spiky offering with plenty of fiddly riffs but lacking in real presence. Drummer Matt Halpern’s follow-up Feed The Ground is a beast, however, replete with stomping riffs and a punishing post-chorus beatdown.   Admittedly, that noticeable difference in approach makes the record work well, considering its length, but with so few songs, the more disappointing lumberings of founding member Misha Mansoor’s Mile stick out against the concerted pummelling of bassist Adam Getgood’s Extraneous. Both make do without Spencer Sotelo’s vocals but only the latter grabs the imagination with its deliciously jagged rhythms and thick riffage. Sotelo’s contribution is the record’s most interesting, replete with a stomping, poppy chorus, industrial touches and ripping solo before guitarist Mark Holcomb’s Pale Aura rounds the record off on a slightly disappointing note. It’s a decent addition, sprinkled with plenty of spurts of double bass but suffers from the guitar work, whilst impressive, isn’t particularly memorable. As a means of plugging the gap between albums and presenting new music in an engaging way, Clear is a success. Some of the songs on offer require intense listening in order to fully appreciate the use of the original theme, making it a more involving piece of music than most in the genre. But it’s a bit of an anomaly at the same time. For a start, Sotelo is absent from, excluding the instrumental overture, two of the six compositions, stripping back on the emotional depth and underutilising a superb vocalist in the process. Secondly, it’s a little surprising that given the immense talent on offer that Periphery haven’t indulged their outside influences a little more. For example, the piano intro to Pale Aura is short, but delicious and delicate, before the guitars crash in and familiar services are resumed. Still, if these issues don’t combine to ruin Clear whatsoever, and there’s enough expansion on the core Periphery sound to make it a worthwhile exercise whilst a follow up to 2012’s Periphery is created. 7/10