Album Review: Periphery – ‘Periphery IV HAIL STAN’

Periphery IV: HAIL STAN’, is Periphery at their finest. Deciding to bet on themselves, they left their label to start their own company 3 Dot Recordings and take full control of their destiny. They produced a record without any of the pressures or deadlines that come from working with a label and it shows.

They fully embraced that new found freedom, as shown on the first track of the record, “Reptile”. A sixteen-minute song about a stoner trying to save the world from reptilian aliens that include both string and spoken word sections. The premise might seem campy, but Spencer Sotelo’s lyrics convey pointed messages about our state of existence. He marvels at both the accomplishments of humanity and the disappointing ways we squander our gifts.  “You came from the trees and we altered the genes Here you are, all you fuck with is wages You had the day but you pissed it away.” We are a living miracle and yet so many of us are just trapped working jobs with no meaning beyond a paycheck.

This is no concept record, but examining human beings and how we relate to each other and to the earth is a theme that is woven through many of the tracks. “Blood Eagle”, track two, is a thundering and brutal song about a Viking invasion. The song captures the mayhem and violence of battle through blitzing drum fills, thrashing guitar riffs, and Sotelo’s war-cry style vocals. Even the name of the track is a reference to a grizzly execution ritual from Norse history. Although this track is the single for ‘HAIL STAN’ the next song, “Church Burner”, is its mirrored opposite in perspective, telling the story of the Christian invasion of Scandinavia. Drawing influences from black metal blast beats, the music still reflects the horror and mayhem of war, but where Blood Eagle is chaotic and savage, “Church Burner” has a more methodical and systemic sound.

“It’s Only Smiles” is one of the happiest sounding songs on the record, but is a deeply personal look into Sotelo’s grieving process. The song is his struggle to live in the wake of losing his sister. “She’d rather see a man up than me under Rip a hole in my life, but no matter the things I do, never get over it I said goodbye from a place so far” He is struggling to recover from the loss and feels the temptation to end it all, but knows he has to live on for his sister. This song enters new territory for Periphery in both instrumentation and intimacy while maintaining their iconic sound.

The final track, “Satellites”, is a nine-minute plea from Earth to humanity to cease the destruction of the environment before it’s too late. Climate change is a concern and they lyrics reference several specific examples that we are seeing including: ocean pollution: “Down in the blue Damaged by the new”, melting polar caps: “The rising heat and the melting ice”, and man-made earthquakes from fracking/drilling:  “The mountain cracks from the kicks we give The plain will split in two and swallow where we live.” All these examples are followed with the repeating message of our impending downfall unless we stop this destructive behavior. In the outro, Sotelo’s echos the fear many people hold that it may already be too late for us “We’re going under We’re going under We’re going under.”

Periphery IV: HAIL STAN is a complex and heavily layered album that shows Periphery at their best. They successfully balance staying true to their sound and evolving as a band with a diverse, nuanced track-list.

Tracklist:

  1. Reptile
  2. Blood Eagle
  3. CHVRCH BVRNER
  4. Garden in the Bones
  5. it’s Only Smiles
  6. Follow Your Ghost
  7. Crush
  8. Sentient Glow
  9. Satellites

Periphery IV: HAIL STAN is out now

For more information on Periphery click below.

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Post and photos by Lucas Cruz (Instagram l Website)

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