Periphery – Periphery III: Select Difficulty (Century Media)

Genre: Progressive Metal/Djent

2015’s Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega albums saw Periphery taking their visionary tech metal to another level  – yet perhaps these sprawling concept records, although brilliantly executed, were a bit too ambitious.

III is a more accessible, focused affair, boasting some of the catchiest music the sextet have written: on Marigold, for instance, Spencer Sotelo delivers a chorus that should grace arenas, and The Way The News Goes… sees stratospheric melodies riding gleefully on the back of surging blastbeats – it’s up there with the best of the D.C. act’s work. Dream-like closer Lune, meanwhile, is a sensational piece of songwriting, its sparkling beauty making your skin tingle.

Periphery’s occasional dalliances with saccharine, (almost) radio-friendly rock have always grated with more extreme metalheads, and here, the somewhat cheesy Catch Fire may be the sore point, yet the track’s presence is balanced with some good ol’, crunching djent (Motormouth) and the aggro-filled opener, The Price is Wrong, with some particularly twisted riffs on show courtesy of Messrs Mansoor, Bowen and Holcomb. Indeed, the trio are  again on dazzling form and their combined powers make IIIs weaker moments seem infinitely more impressive.

Difficult? Yes, if you’re a budding guitarist attempting to emulate III, but for listeners, this is probably as accessible as Periphery are going to get.