Periphery – Select Difficulty


Just short of a year after the release of the critically acclaimed double album Juggernaut:Alpha/Juggernaut:Omega, Periphery return with a new full length album, Select Difficulty. With high expectations and much anticipation, fans can stop holding their breath, because Select Difficulty is another high quality release from the Washington sextet.

Select Difficulty is the natural progression from Periphery’s previous releases. To me this album is a condensed version of the twin Juggernauts, basically an amalgamation of these two albums. Select Difficulty goes 50/50 in terms of the sound the band achieved within the double album. Tracks like “Catch Fire” and “Marigold” take the more accessible route of Alpha. These songs feature liberal use of clean vocals and warmer instrumental tones. Contrary to this, “Habitual Line-Stepper” and the intro track “The Price is Wrong” veer towards Omega territory. These tracks are much faster, very crunchy with the djent sound Periphery fans have come to know.

Select Difficulty doesn’t feature the same level of experimentation present in the Juggernaut tandem (it is only one album after all), but Periphery adds new elements to these tracks, and still provide that sweet, sweet technical riffage they’ve always been known for. Gone are 8-bit effects, elevator muzak, and in their place is heavy usage of orchestral instrumentation, dedicating much of the outro to the final track “Lune,” to classical stringed instruments, effectively transforming the tone established in albums prior. This is contrasted with droning Meshuggahlike djent featured extensively on the heavier tracks like “Motormouth” with some improvisational flair that adds a nice flavour to the track. Select Difficulty really is a beautiful blend of metal’s diverse sounds with the distinct style and sound Periphery has developed over the years.

Select Difficulty is a growth point for Periphery musically. Gone is the heavy experimentation from the Juggernaut tandem, and in its place come a much tighter and more strongly composed album, with an established style and timbre in Select Difficulty. The album is far less chaotic and dynamic in style than the Juggernauts were. Aside from the contrasting heavy and poppy songs, Select Difficulty ends up less surprising in the end. Select Difficulty is still very nuanced and marks a moment in the history of Periphery where a clear identity seems to be surfacing. Select Difficulty is the distillation of all that preceded it. It is a highly refined offering from a band who now know exactly who they are.

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Josh loves metal so much he writes about it sometimes.

8.5 Rating