Periphery have been on a creative roll. Only a year and half after 2015‘s Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega were released, the D.C. band is back with their fifth full-length album, Periphery III: Select Difficulty.

After the Juggernaut concept albums, Select Difficulty was not initially supposed to be a full-length. “Juggernaut was so long and comparatively stressful,” says guitarist Misha Mansoor. “It took six months. Initially, we decided to try and make an EP. Everybody was down with that. With this fresh start, we were all hooked. This was our first stress-free experience. The time crunch actually helped it become the most cohesive too. It all turned into Periphery III.

Definitely not an EP, Periphery III: Select Difficulty clocks in at more than an hour. Unlike the extended intros of past records, this time around the band gets right down to business with “The Price Is Wrong.” It’s intense and aggressive, but also packed with clever riffs and their trademark djent tendencies. The barrage continues with “Motormouth.”

Vocalist Spencer Soleto really brings it on this album. That’s encapsulated in the epic “Marigold,” where he displays a variety of vocal styles from harsh yells to melodic croons to a surprisingly effective falsetto. The track is augmented by orchestral elements which add an interesting atmosphere.

Those synths and orchestral elements are used throughout the album. The band doesn’t overdo it, but inserts enough to give the songs additional depth and texture. The last minute plus of “Absolomb” is very cinematic

Periphery’s triple-guitar attack is known for their technical prowess, but they also help make the album a cohesive one. Mansoor, Jake Bowen and Mark Holcomb blend a variety of riffs with creative fills that are sometimes powerful and heavy, other time more subtle and dextrous.

One of the highlights of the later part of the album is “Prayer Position,” a concise and sometimes brutal track that’s balanced by a catchy melodic chorus. The album wraps up with “Lune,” an atmospheric ballad that gathers momentum before a mellow, orchestral ending.

Periphery III: Select Difficulty is an impressive album. The band’s multi-faceted musicianship hits on all cylinders, with the arrangements showing a lot of diversity. While not as experimental as some of their past releases, Periphery still push plenty of musical boundaries, making it a challenging and satisfying release.

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