Juggernaut: Omega (CD/DVD)

"Periphery have been an omnipresent force in the prog metalcore realm since their first album released in 2010 – band founder Misha Mansoor has served as producer on several of the genre’s albums, and the other members are all famous in their own right, whether it’s simply for their craft (Matt Halpern), their involvement in other projects (Spencer Sotelo, Mark Holcomb, Nolly Getgood), or just simply being the nephew of someone exceedingly famous (Jake Bowen). This makes whatever they decide to do extremely important, and the band’s decision to release a concept double album has created hype of hugelargic proportions. In my humble opinion, the band has delivered on all fronts, but not without some disappointments in the “could’ve been” area.

Since their inception, Periphery have changed from a chugga-chug ambidjent project posting demos on the internet in the late 2000s to a full-fledged prog metal band with heavy elements of metalcore, post-hardcore, and pop music in general. If you weren’t onboard for “Periphery II”, “Juggernaut” likely won’t change your mind (unless your issues were relatively small), as it’s more of the same poppy atmosphere and less of the techy downtuned riffs, though god knows THOSE are still around. But there’s also a lot of style experimentation – jazz fusion, death metal, and various forms of electronica are all utilized on a semi-normal basis, and range from being seamlessly integrated into the music to being tacked on to the ends of songs like gluing a top-rate dildo onto an already particularly throbby penis. If this all sounds a bit schizophrenic, rest assured that the songcraft is, for the most part, tighter than it’s ever been. Singles from Alpha like “22 Faces” and “Alpha” itself show off Periphery’s pop prowess with choruses and hooks that refuse to leave your head, and complex riffs that are somehow just as ‘wormy as the vocals. And the songs on Omega are longer, more complex, and still manage to be as infectious as the most annoying of STDs – even the twelve minute sprawling title track that has more in common with the bombastic riffs of Periphery I has a shapely middle section that rivals even the hottest of…ugh, fuck it, done with the metaphors. It’s just insane. I cried when I heard it.

And now onto what I don’t care for; first off, the decision to split the album into two parts was definitely well-informed from a marketing standpoint. Most people don’t go around listening to 80 minute records all day, myself included, and the supposedly delicate structure of a concept album also means that listening to Juggernaut by skipping to different songs would devalue the experience. So the band broke it into two records to make it seem more manageable to listen to in daily life. Another stated reason was so that newcomers to the band would be able to buy Alpha at a discounted price, decide if they liked it, and then purchase Omega if they were so inclined (music previewing doesn’t work like that anymore, but hey you can’t fault the band for trying to turn that into tangible record sales). The problem I have is that Omega isn’t really paced to be its own album, which makes releasing it on its own instead as simply as the second disc in a package a little pointless. It’s not like the excellent “The Afterman” double albums from Coheed and Cambria, which were each albums that worked in their own right. I realize that this is really just semantics, but I think calling Juggernaut both the third and fourth album from Periphery, while technically correct, is just disingenuous, and judging them fairly on their own as separate albums is impossible (which is why all reviews being published are including them together).

Periphery has always had a unique way of pacing their albums, regularly including playful, sometimes relatively lengthy interludes between tracks. Juggernaut is no different, and these interludes are now occasionally used to seed songs that will appear later on the album, or provide callbacks to tracks already present. The transitions aren’t always elegant however, and can range from grin-inducing to head-scratching to just plain grating. Thankfully, the band isn’t going for the illusion that each song flows seamlessly into the next, at least no more than they were going for it on any of their previous albums, and it’s easy to get used to everything given multiple listens.

Overall, Juggernaut is a dense album that’s going to take a myriad of listens to fully sink in, just like most of the band’s prior releases (I don’t think anyone is gonna argue that “Clear” has any depth that you would find after about the fifth listen or so, but hey hey that’s ok kay). But it’s also accessible on the surface with deceptively simple rhythms and poppy choruses, which draw you in to appreciate the deeper cuts. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes unique and thoughtful music in the post-hardcore, metalcore, and progressive metal genres, but I’d also recommend it to anyone ever, because this is my absolute favorite band and I think they’ve created a masterpiece. So take from that what you will, and then get the fuck out of here. The play button is calling my name." - iprobablyhateyourband.com

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    $14.00
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  • "“Where Dreams Are Forgotten” is the sixth album by Swedish power metal quartet “AXENSTAR” and is their first to be released under “Inner Wound Recordings”.Power metal is one of my favourite metal genres; I love the energy, the melodies, the vocals, everything about power metal never fails to get me pumped up, and that’s exactly what AXENSTAR achieve from the very start of this album, “Fear” opens up “Where Dreams Are Forgotten” with speed and intensity, and sets the attitude for the album perfectly. What I love about this album is the diversity; frequently you will hear that signature power metal sound of harmonised guitar melodies and pretty ‘cheesy’ choruses, whilst surrounding all of the typical ‘happy’ sounding power metal genius, you also gets tastes of darker and moodier music, and AXENSTAR seem to blend the two attitudes well without causing too much musical conflict and confusion within a song.“Inside The Maze” kicks off with a very catchy melody which slightly makes me think of bands like “HELLOWEEN” or “EDGUY”, this is a great song with a moody verse and a typical catchy power metal chorus along with some great riffing from Joakim and Jens. “My Sacrifice” is next and is one of the highlights of this album. It starts off with possibly my favourite riff on this album, when the drums come in under this main riff you cannot help but bang your head to its galloping aggressiveness! Some of the lead work in this song is pretty amazing too!I love when a power metal band like AXENSTAR can showcase a lot of aggression along with that signature power metal ‘cheese’; It gives an album and/or band a lot more personality with the type of diversity shown here on “Where Dreams Are Forgotten”. I feel as if this album can easily reach my top 10 power metal releases this year; it is a brilliant well structured, well written, well recorded work of art and I urge you to not let this go without your attention, buy it and support AXENSTAR. I’m already eager to see what these guys do next." - Metal Temple
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  • "Luciferean Light Orchestra is the eponymous troupe of musicians and debut album led by Therion’s mainman Christopher Johnsson that was recently announced and released via the band’s own site, to little fanfare. According to him, this is a compilation of material that he had in reserve and that he sort of amassed through the years, when he came up with ideas which were too “vintage” or somewhat more left-field that your average Therion song would be...It differs quite a bit from Therion in that it barely has any similarities to most of them tunes included here, other than the use of rather tame but pretty hypnotizing and almost hedonistic female vocals, some of which are done by Mina Karadzic, who, if I am not mistaken, is one of the ladies who starred in one of a series of highly artistic and sometimes slightly enigmatic videos that Therion released in the past couple of years and a few simple choirs that sound quite oratorial. Mina is the only other person than Johnsson that is being identified as a contributor. Everything alludes to 70s prog rock, with a somewhat ritualistic approach and dark gloomy riffs, that border on heavy proto-metal, which I suppose is pretty nice.Johnsson, probably must have done most if not all of the composing and is credited for the guitar as well as some keyboards and hammond, which pops up quite regularly and did provide some backing vocals, but was aided by a couple of drummers, a bass player, no less than 5 guitarists, 2 keyboard players and 3 hammond organists as well as 9 singers. Quite a lineup there. The album was mixed by Lennart Östlund (a guy who has worked with Abba and Led Zeppelin) at polar studios this sounds quite old school in its aesthetics, which might come as a bit of a shock to a few people, but all in all, if you don’t approach this album with prejudice, it might be quite an interesting listen. Remember this is not “Therion” after all, but another project, that may feature some current and former members in its ranks, as well as other “known guests” but they have so far, remained anonymous for whatever reasons.Opener “Dr. Faust on Capri” sweetly and seductively unfurls its charms manifested via a quirky little riff, and some pleasant female vocals that will remind you of all those 60s/70s soft rock, psych bands. The whole melody changes somewhat and the song gets a little heavier towards its conclusion which has a rather imposing, simple male choir, that makes it sound a little like vintage “T” too...“Church of Carmel” is very soothing and sweet and seems to somewhat borrow from the aesthetics and sound of “Beauty in Black” but all through a 70s prism and a bizarre haze of sounds and colors.“Taste the Blood of the Altar Wine” is much much darker, led by a simple riff that’s thickened up with some key magik, while the vocals sound completely bewitching...Which sets quite the tone for “A Black Mass in Paris”, which begins quite a bit like “Nightside of Eden” but veers off into a lot softer and prog territory, before it begins to interject some really dark parts which work a bit like a chorus, since you can’t really say it has one, per ce.“Eater of Souls” has this eastern flavored riff and mixes threatening male and rather tame but at the same time unsettling female ones, which do get softer gradually. It’s not bad at all, just a bit weird. Some of these songs feel like they must have been conceived between “Ho Drakon…” and “A’Arab Zaraq...”“Sex With Demons” (what? Sex with Satan, anyone? lol) is completely bonkers and sort of nightmarish, describing lucid dreaming copulation with horny ones, Incubus and Succubus… with the whole thing sounding like the soundtrack to a bizarre 70s porno gone avant garde!“Venus in Flames” begins with this kinda Hendrix-y riff and some licks around it until another on plays a few times and the hypnotic female vocals make you visualize the vision of “Venus” in flames… diabolically pleasurable… I must say and if they ever re-make “Rosemary’s Baby” hey, the whole chanted chorus of this might work just fine.“Moloch” is downright spiteful and malicious both an invocation and a hymn to the ancient Ammonite god. It’s by far the heaviest and darkest song here.“Dante and Diabaulus” also feels like a “feverish” vision set to music, as it is a bit of an interpretation of Dante’s Inferno, but with a quite sinister take…Last but not least is an untitled bonus track, about “Three Demons”… which is also dark, slow, sinister, almost funeral in its approach and has a sudden outburst of cursing screaming female oclasms, as if a hymn to nyx, heacate and the underworld… it’s quite unsettling, disturbing and majestic in its ritualistic simplicity. This song is only included in the physical release which actually is one of the most lavish digibooks I have ever seen, with gold foil embossed markings and superb overall artistic direction.Overall Luciferian Light Orchestra is quite representative of what its name implies, it’s 70s inspired ritualistic psych hard rock and more with a dark atmosphere and occult themes. It might be not to everyone’s liking, but fans of Therion during their “transitional” phase, before the orchestrations somewhat took over the helm or of bands like Black Widow (sans the flute) etc., might like this quite a bit. Artistically it’s quite accomplished and does well what it’s set out to do. So allow yourself to be enchanted by the bewitching sounds of this side project… while we wait for Therion to come back with their “Classical/Opera” project…" - Grande Rock
    $13.00
  • Pink Floyd influenced doom.
    $13.00
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    $12.00
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    $14.00
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    $15.00