LOUDER REVIEWS: 'Live in London' - Periphery
After fifteen years of existence, Washington progressive metal outfit Periphery have truly made a name for themselves as one of the leading bands of the “Djent” movement. So, it is perhaps a little surprising that until recently, they did not have a live album to their name. Thankfully, in a year where live music has sadly not been a part of our lives for the most part, Periphery have released their 'Live in London' album to redress the balance. Recorded at a sold-out Kentish Town Forum in November last year to promote the band’s interestingly-titled sixth studio album 'Periphery IV: Hail Stan'.
Then band open with the first track from this record, the sixteen-minute epic 'Reptile'. The best thing about kicking things off with this, from the point of view of the live album, is that it gives the listener the opportunity to really soak up the atmosphere of the Forum as the song slowly builds up to the moment the lead singer Spencer Sotelo’s voice pierces through the ambience. There are not a lot of bands out there who would choose such a lengthy opening song for their biggest live show to date, but it’s meat and drink for Periphery who have honed their craft so well that the track is never in danger of dragging and even features a small surprise in the form of SikTh frontman Mikee Goodman, who contributes guest vocals on the record and came on stage to do his section. Periphery take us from the epic to the brutal heaviness of 'Chvrvh Bvrnvr', and it is truly something just how beefy the sound manages to be even through a live recording, with drummer Matt Halpern’s booming beats being largely responsible for that.
Following this comes 'Remain Indoors' (not a song about lockdown, but a song referencing guitarist Misha Mansoor’s love for Mitchell and Webb) where Sotelo really gets to show off his phenomenal vocal range, and he picked the best possible night to be on such terrific form. Not that anyone in the band is letting the side down, as Mansoor and guitarist Jake Bowen more than make up for the absence of third guitarist Mark Holcomb, who had to miss out. Tracks such as 'Psychosphere' and 'Scarlet' give the duo plenty of opportunities to show off without ever becoming indulgent; and Scarlet in particular makes you want to jump around in the pit just as much on the live album as it does when you’re experiencing the real thing. The other side of Periphery’s sound is expressed through the likes of 'It’s Only Smiles' and 'Marigold', the latter of which features Sotelo conducting the crowd in a glorious rendition of the song’s chorus.
Periphery’s live shows focus almost entirely on the music, and with the type of musicianship that you can hear throughout 'Live in London', it’s not difficult to see why this is an approach they favour. It also works very well in the context of a live album when crowd banter and participation can sometimes fall a little flat. However, we do get a bit of Sotelo flexing his frontman muscles in the show’s penultimate track 'Blood Eagle', as he commands the crowd to scream ever louder and louder. Listeners are more like to be taken in by the crushing heaviness of the track more than anything else though. The final track of the evening once again goes in the reverse direction in the form of the ballad 'Lune', which has become Periphery’s staple gig-closer since the song’s release on 'Periphery III: Select Difficulty' in 2016. The soaring ballad is a terrific closer and once again demonstrates the extraordinary versatility of this band. While live music is not something that can be easily replicated, the band’s ability to nail every single song without mistakes and the tremendous job done by the sound engineers, 'Live in London' is a pretty good substitute given the circumstances, and a precious reminder of how good nights like this can be.
'Live in London' is out now - stream the record here:
Check out the official audio for 'Reptile' below too: