Since long before Periphery's signing to Sumerian Records and their self-titled musical debut, there have been whispers of "Juggernaut". The infamous concept album(s) have been building steam over the years with various demos provided by Misha Mansoor (aka Bulb) and a whole gamut of rumors at every turn.
Now, the time has come to put all the talk and speculation to rest as the albums will officially drop tomorrow, January 27th, with pre-orders available HERE. But, as it stands, you don't have to wait another day to take in the long-anticipated works from Periphery. If you haven't heard, both "Juggernaut – Alpha" and "Juggernaut – Omega" are live and streaming in their entirety. You can stick around and find both of the above, below.
"Juggernaut" is more than a two sided Periphery romp or a bloated collection of songs. The effort casts the band in a different light than one may expect. "Alpha" and "Omega" are based more around storytelling and collective songwriting than showcasing technical ability. This fact alone contrasts the band's previous releases and may alienate some fans. However, if you approach the Juggernaut albums with an open mind, you can find a great time waiting to happen.
In some ways, the experience plays out like an 80-minute Periphery musical predominantly told by a single voice. Songs range through a number of moods and styles, displaying theatrics, jazz elements, downright heaviness, and some twists and turns you may or may not expect. Every song flows smoothly into the next with an intermission smacked in between – thus, the two parts. There are differences between "Alpha" and "Omega" but, in reality, they function together as a single release telling two different parts of the same story.
I haven't had a chance to read the actual lyrics but after several listens over the past week, the narrative is coming into focus. If you so desire, my interpretation can be found in the section just below (spoilers included). Or you can just skip it over. My perspective could be totally wrong but it's partially backed by past commentary from the band such as this.
The whole of Juggernaut revolves around an immortal being created by man and his eventual existence beyond our own. This includes the emotional and psychological repercussions of his ceaseless existence.
The first three tracks of "Alpha" focus on his Earthen life. This includes his creation, captivity, torture through testing, and the introduction of a love story. Then the world presumably up and ends on track number four, "The Event". The rest of "Alpha" focuses on his life beyond Earth through the reaches of space and time.
"Omega" tells his bloody story of revenge against human nature and those who created him. It also brings more of the love story to light and continues down the rabbit hole of an immortal existence beyond the lifeline of Earth.
The album(s) work hand in hand. Both "Alpha" and "Omega" make references to each other, foreshadowing and flashing back as the story progresses.
The primary difference between the albums, musically, comes through their overall approach. "Alpha" is more atmospheric and melodic while "Omega" is generally heavier and more aggressive. Though these elements do bleed through on both ends. If you will, they could be viewed as a ying and yang connected by common factors. Some of my favorites from each would have to be the title tracks "Alpha" and "Omega", "Priestess", "Heavy Heart", "22 Faces" and "Graveless". And you can't forget "MK Ultra" for that Mr. Person bulbstalgia! Though, in reality, every single track has some greatness going on.
The albums do come with some drawbacks depending on your expectations (it's best to just leave those at the door when you press play). As I mentioned, if you're anticipating a high end technical exhibition or a supreme shredfest from the band, you largely won't get it. Periphery seems to have spanned out and simplified in the process. It kind of sucks not hearing as many complex, stand out parts from individuals such as drummer Matt Halpern or the guitar corps. It's cool that the band has focused their efforts collectively and they can frankly do whatever the hell they want. However, they might be selling their talents short on some fronts. Maybe it's just a classic case of too many cooks in the kitchen, maybe not.
Then there's the mad singer Spencer. This man's talent level is through the roof yet, on some tracks, he sounds more whiny than ever. When he lays in power behind his voice, it's phenomenal. When he doesn't… well, you get where this is going. I just hope his clean vocals didn't peak on "Periphery II". But hey, that's all just my opinion! And I can't sing for shit! On the other hand, he brings some of his most ferocious harsh vocals to date. Not to mention the lyrical execution.
With the juggies, Periphery proves not to be stagnant in their musical ventures. They will change and mature in a number of ways as time moves on, just as musicians should. The albums serve up a great story with some great music to boot. This isn't yo momma's Periphery album(s) but they're certainly awesome in their own right. Yet again, you can give all the music a listen above and grab the merchandise HERE if you so desire. Good day to you, good sirs.