Those Periphery boys are at it again. The Maryland sextet brings their unique progressive style back with a new double album, Juggernaut:Alpha and Juggernaut:Omega. Although the two are meant to be companion pieces to one another, the styles and sounds differ drastically between these two entries. Juggernaut: Alpha offers up a far more accessible album (think Mastodon’s Once More ‘Round the Sun) while Juggernaut:Omega embraces aggression and attacks head on. When brought together, the albums offer a striking harmony between modern prog-metal, building crescendos and placing emphasis on generic fusion, to crushing walls of sound from more traditional metal genres.
For a first time listener, the order of these two albums is crucial. Juggernaut:Alpha is designed to lead into Juggernaut:Omega. The intro track “A Black Minute” receives numerous call backs during both albums’ tracklists. This is an interesting device that explicitly tells the listener that these songs and albums are intertwined. The band does however rely on this very heavily throughout both albums, each time taking more gravity away from the technique until it becomes less of a boon and more of an annoyance.
Fear not though, because the level of diversity present on Juggernaut:Alpha more than makes up for this minor indiscretion. “MK Ultra” aims to control your mind with some juicy dissonant chaos ending with a muzak-y outro that will make you wonder if it was all just a dream. This is followed by “Heavy Heart,” a very poppy track that could have very easily been the single for this album. It features plenty of vocal hooks urging to be sung along to, mixed with sweeping guitar riffs and technical drum lines to add more dimension to a song that could have been dismissed as a metal by numbers affair.
From here Periphery dips into their bag of tricks and shows off their ability to blend genre and styles into each new work. “The Scourge” (the actual single) brings in some doomy instrumentals and small glimpses into the future, while “Alpha,” “Rainbow Gravity,” and “Psychosphere” are djent-laden numbers more in line with older Periphery content instrumentally. The first album ends with a droning sludge riff, but this is only the beginning…
Juggernaut:Omega refuses to be outdone. The intro track “Reprise” prefaces the album with an acoustic rendition of “A Black Minute.” This is a trap. Merely a device to lull the listener into a false sense of security as Omega’s wrath looms precariously overhead. Juggernaut’s second single “The Bad Thing” signals a change of pace. More chugging, rougher vocal inflections and a slow build. There are remnants of Alpha’s pop aesthetic leading to a serious bass drop followed by dissonance and a vulgar display of guitar virtuosity The song’s ambient outro functions as a lead-in to the sombre acoustic intro of “Priestess,” the album’s slowest song. It features some interesting slide guitar work and a synthesized bridge that somehow works.
This is followed by “Graveless” another single (three for those counting at home), that brings on the speed and the power lacking from Alpha, and is really where the album starts to bring the noise. “Hell Below” is a punishing assault of beautiful doom (although a jazzy outro was an odd choice). Redemption is near as the titular track “Omega” operates as the magna opus of this double album, a twelve-minute onslaught, and the first blast beats in 15 tracks. Chuggy riffs drive the song into multiple soaring solos with few breaks in between to catch your breath. It’s a shame it took so long to get to something like this, but it was worth the wait. The end of the album comes on the back of “Stranger Things,” another djent-heavy track that allows each band member to show off a little, with solos and dynamic instrumental and vocal flourishes to cap off the Juggernaut.
Periphery have done an amazing thing with their work on Juggernaut:Alpha and Juggernaut:Omega. They have created a double album that makes complex progressive metal into something accessible without losing too much edge. They prove that any genre can be corrupted by the influence of metal and integrated seamlessly into the behemoth we all know and love. Apart from the over-usage of the call back to “A Black Minute” and a few moments where a hooky chorus took precedence over a heavy verse, the Juggernaut tandem is a great addition to the heavy metal cult.
More on Periphery at Sumerian Records Official Site: sumerianrecords.com
Just a Taste: “Alpha”