REVIEW: PERIPHERY @ THE FORUM, LONDON (15.11.19)
Within the last decade and a half Periphery have risen from a bedroom project created by guitarist, drummer and producer Misha Mansoor to a fully functioning touring and recording juggernaut (pardon the pun), producing great album after great album of progressive metal that appeals just as much to fans of death metal as it does to fans of post-hardcore. With the release of Periphery IV: HAIL STAN earlier this year on their own label 3DOT Recordings, you wouldn’t be accused of hyperbole if you said that Periphery are at the zenith of their career right now. The band concluded their first headlining European tour in 4 years with a sold out show at The Forum in Kentish Town, London - their biggest headline show to date! Being as huge of a fan of the band as I am and having the opportunity to go down to London to see the final show of this tour, I absolutely had to get down there!
After running into my old friend Jakub Zytecki (who was playing second guitar duties with Plini on this run) at the venue’s downstairs bar, the standing crowd started to fill up a little bit to welcome the tour’s opening act, the self-described 'dream thrash' band Astronoid. The Massachusetts natives’ unique combination of post-hardcore, progressive rock and extreme metal certainly wasn’t for everyone. The frenetic yet atmospheric guitars and pummelling death metal influenced drums contrasted with the high pitched, ultra-clean melodic vocals from frontman Brett Boland is certainly a stylistic meshing that takes a bit of getting used to. Even weirder, the backing vocals on the band’s backing track were mixed very high, meaning that at many points the harmonies were almost as loud as Brett’s main vocal.
Nethertheless, Astronoid made a very good impression on me and it looked like they won over a good portion of the crowd at the end of the day. Hopefully they’ll be back over these shores again at some point soon - they certainly have the potential to tour with a wide variety of both metal and non-metal acts!
ROCKODILE RATING: 9/10
Next up was the Australian virtuoso guitarist Plini. Plini has been a mainstay in the progressive metal scene and the guitar community as a whole since the early 2010s. He’s even been personally endorsed by Steve Vai! Plini’s support set showed how great he is in a live environment as well as in the studio, with him and his fantastically skilled team of Jakub Zytecki (guitar), Simon Grove (bass) and Chris Allison (drums) blasting through songs like “Paper Moon” and “Handmade Cities” with ease.
Having already seen him perform multiple times before, one of the best things about Plini’s live show is that he allows his supporting musicians a lot of chances to shine and impress the crowd. Tonight was absolutely no exception to this - Jakub Zytecki and Simon Grove both got to have several solos, as well as Chris Allison getting a cheeky drum solo in as well! The improvised, almost jam-like feel of his shows is what sets Plini apart from a lot of other progressive rock and progressive metal acts in a similar vein to him and it’s great that he is still continuing to do this.
All in all, Plini did what he always does and that’s to translate what could otherwise be incredibly nerdy instrumental guitar music into a fun and engaging live show both for the crowd and for his supporting musicians. Take a bow!
ROCKODILE RATING: 10/10
Of course, everyone in this room was waiting for one band in particular this whole time. We got what we were waiting for finally when the lights dimmed and we got an epic intro that signalled the arrival of the djent pioneers. This was a full headline show where Periphery were allowed to do whatever they wanted and, being Periphery, they decided to start the set with their near 17 minute epic “Reptile”. Despite being down a member (Mark Holcomb was absent from the tour due to a family emergency), they were able to smash through this opening song with relative ease, helped out by a rare guest appearance from Mikee Goodman (SikTh) where he performed his spoken word part.
Later on during “Reptile” we got another short guest appearance from Plini and Jakub Zytecki, who performed a duelling solo in place of the solo that would normally be played by Mark Holcomb. Periphery gave us an almost once in a lifetime experience right off the bat by arranging these three guest appearances in the space of a single song and it was one that the crowd, myself included, really enjoyed. Mikee Goodman especially got a pop from the sold out crowd that reached Wrestlemania levels!
The set progressed on in typically brilliant Periphery fashion, with the band roaring through a set that mainly consisted of material from Periphery IV: HAIL STAN and Periphery III: Select Difficulty. Spencer Sotelo really got to show off how brutal his vocal stylings can go during “CHVRCH BVRNER” and “Blood Eagle”, whilst contrastingly dipping into his most emotional places in “It’s Only Smiles”. Meanwhile, Misha Mansoor and Jake Bowen kept the guitar work tight and consistent and Matt Halpern proved time and time again why he is one of the best drummers in metal with his little improvised flourishes that added so much
more flavour to every single song.
We got a couple of diversions into older material with “Psychosphere” (from Juggernaut: Alpha) and the perennial fan favourite “Scarlet” (from Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal), but as has been typical of them recently the band didn’t decide to go back into their now almost decade old debut album. That’s understandable though, considering that the vast majority of the band’s fans these days don’t have the same kind of nostalgia that those like me who have been fans since the early 2010s or even late 00s have for Periphery I. The album’s 10th anniversary is coming up very soon - maybe they have something special planned for it? It would be very cool if they did!
After a brief walk off stage, the band returned to close us out with Periphery III: Select Difficulty’s closing track “Lune” and what a perfect closer it was. This show was clearly a huge deal for them (Spencer Sotelo made sure to tell the crowd that it was the biggest headline show they’ve ever played in their careers) and it really came across during that final song. “Do you feel the love?” Yes, Periphery, we feel the love. We can’t wait to see what greater heights you’ll reach next.
ROCKODILE REVIEW: 10/10
Words by Robert Percy