Who is Periphery?
Periphery is a Progressive Metal band that formed in 2005 in Washington, D.C. Periphery have put out 5 albums before Periphery IV: Hail Stan (math is hard). Periphery left their previous label, Sumerian Records, and started their own record label, 3DOT Recordings, for Periphery IV: Hail Stan.
Here are the mad lads behind Periphery IV: Hail Stan
Vocals — Spencer Sotelo
Guitar 1 — Misha Mansoor
Guitar 2 — Mark Holcomb
Guitar 3 — Jake Bowen
Bass — Adam “Nolly” Getgood (not an offical member anymore😢)
Drums — Matt Halpern
Periphery has always been one of my favorite bands since discovering them with their 2012 release Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal. All the content they’ve put out since then has been top notch and garnered an embarrassing amount of listens from me. When I heard that Periphery were leaving their record label and starting their own, I was a little nervous. Coupled with the departure of their Bassist- Adam “Nolly” Getgood in late 2017, I was left thinking: Was the album going to be that much different?
The first single from 'Hail Stan' dropped and almost all my worries were gone. 'Blood Eagle' proved to be a banger, leaving almost no room for the listener to breathe from start to finish. I thought this album was going to be the heaviest thing the band had put out. Approaching the release date with caution, I eagerly anticipated my first full listen, and then it happened.
I was honestly astonished with what I had heard. I didn’t know what to think. I was unable to unpack what I had just heard. Naturally, I had to go back in for round two. Round two turned into three, and then four, and then … well let’s just wait for Spotify Year in Review to see how many times I’ve listened.
The band has seriously stepped up their game with this album. Spencer, the vocalist, gave his best vocal performances to date. His growls range from downright disgusting to almost angelic. His vocal range has also improved vastly since Periphery’s first album. 'Satellites' is where Spencer really shines on this record (the 5 minute mark until 5:45 is a great quick example). The dynamics, range, and subtleties in 'Satellites' is truly astounding. The band also takes a back seat for most of the song, allowing Spencer to really show what he’s made of.
This albums covers a lot of ground in genres. Electronica, Pop-y, extreme Metal -- all blended with expertise. Each song truly sounds unique and stands out amongst the rest. 'Follow Your Ghost' is non stop Djenty Metal at its finest. 'Crush' is a mix of Orchestral, Industrial, and Techno vibes with a sweet strings arrangement to finish. 'It’s Only Smiles' is an extremely happy mix of Pop and Metal, despite being about a very sad topic. Hail Stan is fresh from start to finish, and that’s part of what makes it so easy to listen to.
'Reptile' is a very long song -- clocking in at sixteen minutes and forty-four seconds -- and man it's one hell of a ride. The main verse riff is one of my favorite Periphery riffs -- weird timings, tons of slides, and ear-splitting pinch harmonics. The lyrics are weird as hell -- Billy, the Most High, vs the Green-Skinned Reptiles. This song is such a treat.
Periphery is the band that got me into Progressive Metal. My ‘Metalcore’ roots began in early high-school with bands like Asking Alexandria, Bring Me The Horizon, and The Devil Wears Prada. I never knew what Progressive music was.. That was until Jordan here introduced me to P2: This Time It’s Personal! I was blown away by the mixture of complexity, heavy, rapid timing changes and wide vocal range. From then on Periphery has always been one of my most loved bands and each release of theirs is something I anticipate highly and look forward to. When I heard that Periphery was leaving Sumerian Records and starting their own label I was ecstatic. In my opinion Sumerian releases have been getting worse and worse over the years and their method of releasing one album as two is just greedy… but back to my point. I knew this would allow the guys in Periphery to do everything they wanted without holding back and my god did they do just that.
The album consists of 9 songs ranging from their best song ever written: 'Reptile' which encompasses everything that is Periphery (more on that later) to 'It’s Only Smiles' which is a soft, lighthearted feeling song draped over a very heavy and disheartening meaning. There’s extremely heavy and brutal with 'Blood Eagle' and 'Chvrch Bvrner' to very light and Poppy with 'It’s Only Smiles' and 'Crush' and it does so in a way that is so fluid that you can barely tell that Metal and Pop don’t usually go together... I say usually because Periphery made it work flawlessly in Hail Stan. Now let’s dive into the lyrics a bit.
Hail Stan’s lyrics are honestly a mixed bag, but the overlying theme seems to do with the end of the world whether that comes from Aliens/Human incompetence. I highly enjoy Periphery’s imagery and story telling along with their way of calling out topics that seem to become hidden or not looked at. There’s three songs that I want to dive a little deeper into.
'Reptile' is both a journey musically and lyrically. It tells the story of a stoner boy named Billy that fights back against an alien race of reptiles that are destroying the world. The reptiles are destroying the world because of how greedy the human race is. Billy then harnesses his chi and praises weed to try and become stronger to fight the alien lizards. The theme seems so goofy and ridiculous but it actually covers how the human race is actually destroying the world itself with how greedy big corporations are becoming. In the end Billy fails and the human race is wiped from the earth as everyone is now buried in the land that they once owned.
'Follow Your Ghost':
I think that this song is the heaviest when you combine both the feeling of the lyrics and music. The song is a classic Periphery song with heavy lows and soaring highs that will keep you on your toes as a listener. Spencer really stands out as his voice is the best it has ever been on this album. The lyrics have the theme of suicide, and how we as a culture a lot of times remember people for their suicide more so than other things in life, and in a way this glorifies suicide. It’s a hard and heavy topic to talk about but I believe the way it’s laid out in this song is sad yet beautiful in realization.
This is somewhat of another apocalyptic/end-of-the-world song, but in a bit of a different perspective. It’s from the viewpoint of the Earth and how it sees the humans killing it. The Earth pleads for them to realize their mistakes as there are signs of the Earth’s destruction, but everyone seems to ignore them. The rising tides and melting ice are hints at global warming, which is a very controversial political topic. This is another song where Spencer really excels and shows that he has grown as a vocalist.
I LOVE this album. It is easily Periphery’s best album as it’s solid through and through besides one song (will explain). There’s a song for the Djent fans, Heavy fans, Pop-y fans, and everything in between. The album rides waves of emotion through very real lyricism and thrilling musicianship.
The only fault I see in this album that doesn’t make it a 10 is one song, 'Crush'.
'Crush' is a HUGE letdown in my opinion. The song feels like a very cookie cutter industrial Rock/Metal song that has been done a thousand times before. I expected more from Periphery, and maybe I’m missing something, but this song seems very unoriginal and just meh. I would love to hear why I am wrong, but for now this is my stance.