Periphery / The Contortionist / Destrage (Live Review – The O2 Forum, London, May 20 2017)
The first time I saw Periphery play live, they were headlining the Face Bar in Reading as part of the League Of Extraordinary Djentlemen tour way back in 2011. The capacity of the room also graced that evening by fellow prog-metal heavyweights TesseracT and Monuments?
Fast-forward just over half a decade, teleport to the O2 Forum in Kentish Town, and you have a prime example of just what can be accomplished if you stick to your guns and keep on innovating. This was not just a show – it was a victory party, with some 2,300 fans in attendance.
Opening the evening with some cool and impressively tech-y metalcore, Destrage (75%) were entertaining to watch and a quality choice of warm-up act. If you’re new to these guys and somehow stumbled on this review out of curiosity, check out Destroy Create Transform Sublimate for a sick starter. It’s punchy as fuck, and will be on repeat at my end for a good while.
The Contortionist (93%) tend towards slow-motion, minimalist stage moves – but their music is far from stripped-down or simple. Listening to The Contortionist is like watching a ball of rubber bands explode – and when they dig into the more mellow Primordial Sound, the results are utterly immersive. Seeing how effortlessly these guys captivated such a huge room got me thinking: How much more space could their soundwaves fill?
With some big shows – including a slot at Download Festival next month – coming up, the answer to that question isn’t far off.
Given their status as prog-metal luminaries, and the fact that they’ve earned that reputation by paying their dues in full, you won’t be surprised to hear that Periphery (100%) absolutely crushed it. Cherry-picking songs mainly from Periphery III and both Juggernaut albums – including crowd favourites Stranger Things, The Way The News Goes, Remain Indoors, The Bad Thing (my overall highlight), Psychosphere, The Price Is Wrong (featuring an intense cameo from SikTh’s Mikee Goodman), Masamune and the solidly emotional Lune – Periphery threw themselves into a balls-to-the-wall rampage climaxing at a well-deserved point during which the entire room sang Lune’s “whoa oh” section a cappella – before continuing after the show had ended, in the lobby, outside the venue, and even down the street as the Forum crowd filtered toward the nearest Tube station.
Periphery’s ultimate strength lies in the fact that each member possesses their own personality. There is no weak link in that band. Spencer Sotelo has evolved into as strong a performance artist as he is a vocalist, standing stage front with arms outstretched one moment and bending double and spinning while screaming his lungs out the next; Matt Halpern turned a pre-encore “ONE MORE SONG” chant into a hypersyncopated drummer/crowd jam session; Misha Mansoor and Mark Holcomb could be spotted high-fiving anime-style mid-song and generally cracking each other up; Jake Bowen revved up the stage-right crowd every chance he got; and Nolly’s name was chanted passionately as he delivered a short and heartfelt speech.
This was the show every British djent fan has been dreaming of since the movement started. With progressive metal continuing to diversify and grow, the future’s looking bright, labyrinthine, and insanely exciting.
Were you at this show? What did you think? Leave a comment, follow me on Twitter, and let me know!