Progressive rock and metal now have a new force with The Juggernaut. How does this double album stand with seventeen tracks and over an hour of intense volume?
Ambition is a necessity in the world of progressive rock. In order to tell your comprehensive and ongoing story while playing your music, you have to be able to deliver on more levels than just the typical weekend cover band at a local bar. So when your band is already known for being able to deliver and the fan base is waiting for the next step forward, the expectations can cause a lot of pressure.
Ambitious, creativity, intensity, being able to deliver, these are all qualities that Periphery have proven they possess. Periphery have earned their fan following and proper seat in the world of progressive rock after shattering the expectations of new listeners.
After solidifying a lineup over the past couple years and the success of songs like Parade of Ashes, Periphery took things into their own hands and produced their third full album on their own. The difference here is that it is not just your typical LP, but rather a double album in full story format.
It is a massive undertaking to make a double album and tell a cohesive AND make it sound something special. There has to be planning and strategy and a lot of thought put into every aspect. Matt Halpern gives an introduction on what to expecting, saying:
“Given the nature and complexity of the Juggernaut story, we’ve actually done something different and exciting. Juggernaut is a story that is told through our music, and we want our audience to fully digest the whole experience. Because Juggernaut is very detailed and dense in terms of character development, peaks and valleys, climaxes and resolutions we’ve divided the story and music in two, in the form of two separate albums.
“Juggernaut Alpha, the first part, focuses on the back story and character development, while part two Omega, focuses on some pretty serious and gut wrenching events. The story is only complete when the albums are digested consecutively, allowing the listener to recognize and hear the lyrical and musical overlapping themes, foreshadowing, and connected ideas.”
In this video I intend to look at both albums individually and then as a whole at the end. From the opening track of the first album, you get the impression that this story is complex and encompassing, just like Halpern said.
Looking at the grand scheme of this two part story, A Black Minute is a perfect opener. From Spencer’s voice going from enchanting and airy to loud and desperate, it gives the range of his vocal abillity and a precursor to the styles that will be used for Alpha and Omega.
The tone and pace of A Black Minute is fantastic. The build in energy and the fever pitch that breaks after about 2 and a half minutes gives the feel of something enormous happening. It flows well and it doesn’t feel rushed. Many songs on Alpha share this quality.
Alpha’s title track shows off more diversity with it’s presentation. Like A Black Minute, it is paced well and everything flows perfectly.
Alpha has a great sing-a-long feel for a rock song. The guitarwork has great riffs that don’t overtake the focus from the lyrics and the chorus adds a great cap to the song. The bridge has an electronic feel and it gives a great build to the ominous sound feedback.
Over the past month Summerian Records has released several tracks on YouTube with a moving image highlighting some of the songs. Individually you can get an idea of what Periphery has done with Alpha, but when you hear Alpha and then follow it with 22 Faces you get a totally different experience.
22 Faces shows a good example of when Alpha gets a little more intense. It truly feels that everyone in the band is playing at full speed a song like this. The screaming and drum work and guitars and bass all feel like they contribute.
Songs in Alpha have moments of spastic volume changes. There are interconnecting sequences at the end of tracks that sounds like they don’t belong, such as 8-bit medleys and piano pieces, but when you listen all the way through and then continue to Omega, you understand just how interconnected everything is.
After Aplha comes to a close, you go into Omega and you can hear the volume and presentation go into overdrive with just how much volume and growling is given.
Graveless is where Periphery offer their metal talents. This track is brutal and relentless. Even after the half way point where the guitars become very melodic, you can still sense the onslaught of screaming and bass coming. This song feels like a climax when thinking about the peaks and valleys of Juggernaut and how everything is combined in just one song.
What Periphery have done with seventeen tracks is not an easy feat. They were able to deliever a comprehensive story while keeping their style and pushing themselves as musicians. Every song and sequence in both albums contributes to something massive that stands out as an opus that will take many times to fully comprehend.
Omega’s title track delievers a hard style equally as impressive as Graveless and that goes on for over 12 minutes. Including jazz piano, growling, amazing guitar shredding, and a sense of panic and emergency, it sounds like Omega could be the soundtrack to the apocalypse.
From what I’ve noticed while listening to many of the songs on repeat, Alpha seems to have more of a fluid and melodic style while setting up the story of The Juggernaut, and Omega drags you head first into pandemonium. It’s a well thought out format and it works.
Many songs will take a few listens to get behind. There is so much going on throughout the tracks that it is easy to get lost. But if you really invest the time to listen and understand the story, you’ll have a huge appreciation for what Periphery have delievered.
It’s easy to purchase just Alpha or Omega depending on what style you like more, but I really agree with the statement by Periphery’s drummer that you need both albums to fully get the experience of The Juggernaut.
Individually I would give Alpha a 9 and Omega an 8, but overall, I can’t help but round up The Juggernaut as a nine regarding everything that has been given. It is a massive amount of talent and music showcased and will stand as a permanent testament for what Periphery is capable of doing. Periphery has succeeded in shattering expectations of progressive rock fans and The Juggernaut will own your attention for a long time to come.