Released: 2014, Sumerian Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Just as they did in the interim between their first and second albums, D.C.-area djentlemen Periphery bridge the gap to their third full-length with an EP, though this time it's a much more ambitious outing.
Where 2011's Icarus EP was mostly re-recordings and remixes, Clear is all new material that includes one tune written by each of the band's six members and the intro track “Overture,” whose melodic theme is said to provide a common thread to link all the songs together. So a lot of thought obviously went into Clear - except for the artwork, since there really is none – and this is more substantial than the between meal empty calories these EPs typically provide.
The jaunty half-hour mix of instrumental and vocal tracks rarely strays too far from Periphery's signature chug-and-churn djent rumble, and the instrumental chops these guys possess are on ample display. But there is certainly more of an ebb, flow and flavor in the material, and the playfulness here nicely captures what these guys are like live.
Following “Overture” is “The Summer Jam” a springy, almost pop ditty – albeit a rather heavy one – from guitarist Jake Bowen that is laced with friendly hooks and ample melodies buoyed by Spencer Sotelo's clean vocals. Much more aggressive is the thundering, though still quite catchy “Feed The Ground” from drummer Matt Halpern with its jagged rhythms, jackhammer riffs and Sotelo's more assertive shouting.
Guitarist Misha Mansoor and bassist Adam Getgood's instrumentals “Zero” and “Extraneous” are more typical Periphery-sounding tracks. With gut-punch seven or eight-string guitar salvos galore and dive-bomb dynamics that bring ample prog and jazz elements into the mix, they are the most musically challenging numbers here, but lack some of the personality of the rest of the EP.
The pulsing electronic funk of Sotelo's “The Parade of Ashes,” by contrast, recalls old Nine Inch Nails or KMFDM, though again with a more formidable wall of guitar, and is a nice departure, while guitarist Mark Holcomb's grand finale “Pale Aura” alternates between blast beaty almost black metal and soaring, epic power metal with its grand choruses. It is perhaps Clear's most adventurous – and at times most brutal - tune and ends the EP on a high note.
Hardly a slap-dash throwaway, Clear should certainly whet peoples' appetites for what's to come from Periphery, and if that indeed ends up taking a while to get here it also offers plenty to chew on betwixt and between.