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LIVE REVIEW: Periphery @ Academy 2, Manchester

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WORDS: Henry Jones

It’s been a several years since PERIPHERY last strolled through Europe on a headlining tour. Several years, several albums, and an awful lot of growing as a band. 2015 has been a productive year for the Washington sextet. It’s not every year you get to release a double disc concept album, especially one as well-crafted as Juggernaut, and the material has already been very positively received in the UK on the band’s supporting run earlier this year with DEVIN TOWNSEND.

This time, however, the stage is PERIPHERY’s, and they have prepared a lengthy, intimate, and highly volatile set for their fans. With support from newcomers GOOD TIGER and deathcore veterans VEIL OF MAYA, Manchester’s Academy 2 is the venue for the second show of the tour.

Opening the night, GOOD TIGER have a lot to prove. While their line-up could be easily defined as a super group, even boasting the musical prowess of ex-PERIPHERY/ex-TESSERACT vocalist Elliot Coleman, and ex-THE FACELESS drum virtuoso Alex Rüdinger, this is the band’s first full tour, and anticipation is fairly palpable. With an expertly performed set constructed from the highlights of their recently released debut, A Head Full of Moonlight, the performance is only marred by a somewhat unenthusiastic crowd and a questionable mixing job, the latter being corrected halfway through the set, the former remaining reserved until the band’s rendition of their debut single, Snake Oil, which set things in motion nicely. Given another couple of tours, this band will be a truly amazing spectacle to see live, and they have already shown a lot of promise.

Rating: 7/10

Up next, VEIL OF MAYA took the stage to an enthusiastic reception from the crowd. Playing a set favouring the catchier side of their most recent offering, Matriarch, the band took full advantage of their new vocalist’s increasingly impressive range of clean singing on songs such as Mikasa. Indeed, the reception towards the aforementioned single took a noticeable upswing in comparison to the preceding offerings of the show. This taste of things to come continued through the set, with a tasteful combination of the band’s new material and old favourites thrown into the mix. Unfortunately, VEIL OF MAYA still appear to fall into their own pitfall. While their tone is very strong, and their bass presence incredibly exaggerated, the sound still seems empty and almost forced in the absence of a second guitarist. However, this is an issue unlikely to be solved in the future. In contrast, the lack of a second guitar provided a very bass-heavy mix, which suits VEIL OF MAYA’s sound well. On top of this, the band seemed rushed and uninterested in the crowd, with barely a word of interaction between the band and the hundreds of people watching them. This was an encouraging set, however rushed it may have been, and the band’s new vocalist has demonstrated his prowess in an impressive feat.

Rating: 7/10

And thus, the night’s main attraction is unveiled. PERIPHERY took the stage amid anticipation and excited cries from the crowd. Opening with a rare and unlikely string of songs, the Periphery II Trilogy of Muramasa, Ragnarok, and Masamune, the band charged into a lengthy and viscerally personal set of some 75 minutes in length. Cataloguing material from all of their full length material, including some new cuts, the band captured every aspect of their vast sound in unimaginable detail.

The highlights of the set include the opening trio of huge grooves and soaring melodies, the energetic performance of Alpha, and of course the closing rendition of eight string monsters Four Lights and Stranger Things. The former in particular captured the raw and terrifying power of PERIPHERY’s live sound in a fearsome display of low-end groove and the band’s nigh-on perfect live mix, followed by closer and new-found fan-favourite Stranger Things.

In short, PERIPHERY have ascended through the ranks of staggeringly brilliant live performances to sit on the shelves of what one can call spectacle. This is not just another live show. This is a band perfectly capturing their sound in an honest and passionate manner, a rare and refreshing sight these days. This is not something to be missed, and certainly not something to be very easily forgotten.

Rating: 9/10

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