Published Jan 27, 2015Many didn't imagine djent to be more than a passing fad in the world of progressive metal beyond its recent growth in popularity. A term coined by Swedish palm-muting progenitors Meshuggah for the distinctive electric guitar sound that bands of the style employ, a new era of acts brought the technique to wider prominence in the late 2000s.
Recognized as one of the first groups from this new school to move from bedroom recording to releasing records commercially, Periphery have always been a step ahead of their competition in writing, recording and self-producing their music. These strengths come together nicely on Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega, a two-album concept collection that is another fine example of the Maryland metal outfit's impressive musicianship.
For a project that involves two separate records, both complement each other nicely in creating their intended whole. Alpha is the brighter and longer disc of the two, varied in its execution by walking a line between challenging, progressive moments and more accessible fare. While the dissonance of "MK Ultra" and groovy riffing of "Rainbow Gravity" will be familiar to most, it's the soaring choruses and memorable hooks of "Heavy Heart" and the record's title track that highlight the group's increased incorporation of non-metal music while remaining no less inspiring.
Omega does more than enough to make up for any perceived shortage of metal elements, serving as the yin to Alpha's yang. Apart from the acoustic guitar-dominated "Priestess," crushing riffs aren't in short supply thanks to the jerky chugging of "The Bad Thing," the thrashy "Graveless" and the slow-burning "Hell Below," which comes complete with a tasteful jazz-fusion outro. The highlight is the record's monster of a title track, which packs a wealth of heavy metal thunder, lightning-fast leads and airy ambient textures into its nearly 12-minute runtime.
The group's musical talent remains at a high level. While still not the soundest screamer, vocalist Spencer Sotelo continues to improve, hitting astronomical highs with his impressive range. Easily their most ambitious recording to date, the pieces are in place for Periphery to truly become the Alpha and the Omega when it comes to leading the djent micro-genre into the future. (Distort)