Periphery II is probably my most anticipated sophomore album in quite a long time, rather aptly, The Second Coming by The Stone Roses was one other such album and, maybe also coincidentally I felt much the same about The Second Coming as I do Periphery II. Actually that’s probably a little harsh as I still listen to The Second Coming and I doubt I will still be listening to Periphery II in 15 years.
Periphery II has been a long time coming. I rocked the first and self titled Periphery when I still owned my recording studio and I still lived in Cardiff, Wales. When Periphery first dropped it was love at first listen. I knew I loved Periphery, I knew I loved that self titled album and I knew Periphery were one of the best and most original bands I had heard in a long time. Imagine my disappointment on first listen of Periphery II then.
Let me explain. What my imagination had envisioned for this album has not happened. Not even close. Imagine all the worst parts of Periphery and then imagine that these worst parts were what Periphery have developed further, leaving all the best bits behind, as if Periphery themselves are unsure about what it is people like(d) about them. What has resulted in Periphery II is a progression so far off base that Periphery should probably have done pretty much the EXACT OPPOSITE of what they have done here on Periphery II! Instead of further cementing themselves as a behemoth in the metal scene, Periphery have come over as a really cheesy version of their former selves.
The first song to grab my attention in any way is ‘Scarlet,’ likely to be an upcoming single in the future, ‘Scarlet‘ has just enough of what I wanted from Periphery II to prick up my ears and start listening harder. But then, as ‘Ragnarok‘ plays, and as many other songs on Periphery II are testament too, just as you are enjoying what you are hearing, the awful, off kilter singing comes in. Now, Periphery has always toyed with weird keys in their singing parts but, before they did this with restraint, so when it happened it was really effective. With Periphery II they do it all of the time, nulling it’s impact completely and instead coming over as bad, out of tune vocals, rather than clever and well trained. Periphery II sees A LOT more singing about god, salvation, bringing down walls, spirits, reaching out and other generally cheesy and cliched topics that, come over to me as a distinct lack of originality and a potential struggle to write meaningful words – a “try hard” version if you will – as if Periphery are trying to be deep, but clearly actually have no depth.
‘The God’s Must be Crazy‘ starts out like it will be amazing only to be ruined by the vocals the second they drop. ‘MAKE TOTAL DESTROY’ does exactly the same thing. You start enjoying the song and the horrific vocal parts come in to ruin it all yet again, cheesing the songs up to cringe-worthy status. While the rest of the band are clearly head-banging, the singer is warbling his vibrato; completely off base, out of tune and horrible (I get that’s the key and he is technically in tune, it just sounds bad). ‘Erised‘ has some killer beats in the breakdown, coupled with the best guitar solo on the album and is probably the freshest moment on Periphery II with the singing parts on ‘Mile Zero‘ bringing potentially the worst moment.
The production on Periphery II is really good and is the highlight of this album for me. In fact, another thing worth noting is that gone are the swagger riffs on Periphery II. The riffs that were present on Periphery‘s self tiled debut album (e.g. ‘The Walk‘) and was one of the things for me that made Periphery so great. Periphery II has absolutely no swagger left. Periphery sound like a band lost, unsure themselves as to what it is Periphery is supposed to sound like. There are glimmers here and there of hope and the sound that I deem Periphery to be, but Periphery II sees Periphery becoming a cheesier version of their former selves. Before I was proud to play people Periphery, always recommending them to anyone I met that liked heavier music, after Periphery II I am going to struggle to recommend Periphery at all, in case that person hear’s any of the songs off Periphery II. Harsh but fair.
The first time I listened to Periphery II I hated it. The second time I listened to it I hated it. The third time and fourth time I still hated it. By the tenth time I can see some good bits but overall, I still hate it and, for me Periphery II is a very disappointing second album. Periphery II is so disappointing in fact that it may very seriously harm Periphery‘s career because, if all of their fans feel like I do, Periphery are gonna have a HUGE problem moving forward.
In a nutshell, Periphery II is single handedly my biggest musical disappointment ever. The tenth play of Periphery II ended and I have never been so happy for an album to be over. Is this what I had dreamed Periphery II to be? Far from it, this is the nightmare I had hoped would never happen.