Periphery: Juggernaut: Alpha/Juggernaut: Omega

US prog metallers unleash double album – twice the fun!

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In a Spotify era where an alarming number of punters turn their noses up at parting with their dosh for one album, it’s fair to say Periphery have a sizeable amount of chutzpah for bringing out two of the blighters at the same time.

The djent/prog metal rockers have gone ‘concept’ with their latest release, a double album consisting of two full-lengthers (sold separately) that fuse together to concoct a narrative. It’s swimming in all the guttural riffs, off-timed breakdowns, soaring melodies and angsty screams fans would expect after the band’s first two records, but it seems this effort goes that little bit further, with diverging experimental flourishes flaking the gruff landscape.

It’s up to Juggernaut: Alpha to open the story, which their blurb says is a tale of “right and wrong, good and evil”. MK Ultra swirls from Sikth-esque freak-outs into a prolonged, smooth jazz section, while the title tune shows why they’ve snagged support slots with the likes of genre overlords Dream Theater. Those with an allergy to homogenised 21st-century vocals from the States may be irked by some of singer Spencer Sotelo’s pipework, which at times channels the hues of Linkin Park big cheese Chester Bennington, but any misgivings are dissolved by the pinpoint melodies, which epitomise why this band are one of the leaders in their field.

The second record, Juggernaut: Omega, sees Periphery pump up the prog a bit. The snaking title track so very nearly hits the coveted 12-minute mark and opens with askew ragtime piano, while Priestess sees this six-headed ensemble give the distortion pedal a quick rest as fluttering acoustic guitar rises to the fore. Whereas the first album chronicles backstory and character development, the Omega record focuses on event-driven story-time. Graveless is a white‑knuckle jolt into liquid-fingered guitar frenzy, and the concept arcs over this release. It’s with these axes that the Juggernaut combo truly shines.

Founding member and guitar dynamo Misha Mansoor is the ringleader throughout, lording it over the show with his speaker-shaking, rotund tone. Check out _Hell Below _on the Omega record for a microcosm of this band’s stringsmith pedigree. The track opens with an off-timed, muddy, downtuned attack before slipping into razor-sharp fretboard trickery and then another sneaky jazz interlude for dessert.

It’s all grand and lofty stuff, with Periphery seemingly let loose with the large canvas a double album presents. The group brought all six members to the songwriting table this time around, and judging by the impressively consistent Juggernaut salvo, sharing is definitely caring.

Chris Cope

A writer for Prog magazine since 2014, armed with a particular taste for the darker side of rock. The dayjob is local news, so writing about the music on the side keeps things exciting - especially when Chris is based in the wild norths of Scotland. Previous bylines include national newspapers and magazines.