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Live Reviews : Periphery & Crossfaith @ The Espy, Melbourne 25/03/2012

By on February 26, 2013

What else to do on a stinking hot Monday night in old Melbourne town. Normally, nothing, but this is no ordinary week. This week is Soundwave week in Australia’s rock capital and tonight saw this seasons Sidewaves kicked off in style by some djent metal of the highest order from Crossfaith and Periphery at the stalwart that is the Gershwin Room at the Esplanade hotel.

Making our way through the crowd the first thing that struck me was the mix of people making up the packed audience. To say there was a wide cross section of the greater music fan base would be an understatement. During the course of the night I saw people wearing shirts featuring everything from AC/DC to Immortal and stylistically everything in between. Of course most of the punters there were of the prog / djent metal variety, but it really made me wonder what it is about a band like Periphery and their take on metal that appeals to such a wide cross section of listeners.

Well, we were about to find out in no uncertain terms….
Kicking off tonight’s proceedings, all the way from Osaka Japan, were Crossfaith. Admittedly, I knew very little of this band before they hit the stage, but after seeing them the only word that I could use to describe them would be “energy”. From the get go, this band did not stop moving and jumping around the stage like it was an amusement park inflatable castle. Style-wise, Crossfaith play what they have termed “electronicore” which is mainly made up of metalcore, industrial metal, and a huge dose of electronic thrown in for good measure.

Therein lies my only real gripe with Crossfaith, they do what they do really well, but listening to them I wasn’t sure exactly what they were trying to do. One minute it sounded like the closing credits of a video game and the next it sounded like some of the finest prog/math metal I’d heard since early Meshuggah albums. By the end of their set I wasn’t sure what to make of them. Sure, they are all very capable musicians, and I know they won over a few fans that will now check them out at Soundwave on the merit of their stage show if not anything else but if anything, it just made me and a lot of the crowd realise just how far ahead bands like Periphery and current luminaries like Tesseract and Textures are when it comes to djent influenced metal.

After a short change over it was time for the band that everyone had been waiting for since 2011 when they tore the roof off the Hafiz bar…..PERIPHERY.

Normally bands come out with a long introduction and build up to the set, not Periphery. This was going to be all about the music so the band wasted no time with the formalities and hit the stage ripping straight into “Ragnarok” from their latest album “Periphery II”. Having read reports that the bands mix on the Soundwave shows to date has left a little to be desired I was a little worried that the mix tonight might not be up to scratch but all fears were soon out the window as the sound was top-notch which is exactly how it needs to be given there is so much involved in Periphery’s music.
The tripe guitar attack of Misha Mansoor, Jake Bowen, and Mark Holcomb was front and center all night and trading riffs and solos like they were indulging in their own game of who could outdo who. The packed (sold-out?) Espy crowd was lapping up every second of this gig.

Having seen Periphery in 2011 on their first visit to these shores, the one thing that stood out last night was the improvement and progress made by vocalist Spencer Sotelo in that time. Sotelo, has always had a great growl on him which has always added another layer to Periphery over the journey, but now he has also developed some excellent clean tones which were highlighted in many of tracks featured tonight. In addition to this Sotelo has also put a lot of effort into his stage presence. Whether that just comes with the confidence of having been with Periphery for a while now or if it is something he has purposefully worked on is uncertain, but either way, it just makes periphery so much fun to watch and listen to.

As good as everyone on stage was, if this were a football match then drummer Matt Halpern would surely have got “man of the match”. Drumming in periphery surely has to be one of the toughest gigs going around in metal right now given the constant time signature changes and complexity involved but Halpern made it all look and sound so effortless. At certain points in the gig I was sure he was going to lose time and screw up but it never happened. Everything about this band and their songs is so well thought out and intentional it’s amazing they are able to keep it all together for a song let alone a whole set.

The thing with Periphery is this…if you look at them on stage and really try to listen to what each band member is playing it all looks so disjointed. It looks and sounds almost as if they are all playing different parts / songs but it all fits so well when you listen to it as whole when wrapped up in Sotelos impassioned vocals. All in all this is as fine as djent / progressive metal gets.
Given the length of their songs, tonight we were treated to 8 songs (plus an encore) making up just over 75 minutes of stage time but the band would have been hard pressed to have picked any more fan favourites to play. This was a great set list from start to finish and highlighted all aspects of what it is that makes periphery a must-see band.

Highlights of the night included Ragnarok, Luck As a Constant, Have a Blast, Facepalm Mute, and the storming encore of Racecar which completely melted the faces of everyone in attendance. If you get a chance to see periphery at Soundwave make sure you do so as they really are a live band that everyone should see at least once.

Set List:
Ragnarok
Scarlet
Buttersnips
Luck as a Constant
Have a Blast
Facepalm Mute
Make Total Destroy
Icarus Lives!

Encore:
Racecar

About

Nick is a dedicated and lifelong metal / rock fan ever since he heard Kiss Alive when it first came out. His tastes extend from anything and everything from AOR, to power metal, to thrash, to death, to progressive rock / metal, to melodic rock. Chances are if the band exists....Nick knows of them! (some might say he's metal obsessed).