It’s been a year since we checked in with Periphery and in that time the mighty djent machine has grown and evolved at a rapid, startling rate. In the wake of a successful tour with Dream Theater, Periphery’s place as the centrepiece of the djent movement is now firmly established. It’s a genre characterised by heavy syncopated riffs, punchy mid-heavy guitar tones, the use of extended range instruments, clean-to-scream vocals and some of the most outrageous lead guitar work ever committed to hard disc, and Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal builds on the strengths of the band’s self-titled debut in every way. It’s more melodic, yet more extreme. There are more shredding solos but more moments of guitaristic introspection too. More colourful and dramatic. I Heart Guitar caught up with Misha Mansoor and Jake Bowen to talk shop.
Last time we talked, you said you were planning two albums, one of which would be a concept album. Is this still the plan?
Misha: I think we had a lot of expectations, and I guess our gut reaction to that is to just say ‘fuck it’ and do whatever we want. What we’d originally hoped would happen was that we’d get a tonne of time off to just write. We’re at a point where there are so many ideas. All was going to plan but then we got a Dream Theater tour offer smack in the middle of that session. It kinda came to a decision. And no matter what, you never turn down a Dream Theater tour! Continue reading
It recently dawned upon me that something I thought was normal all my life is not. For as long as I can remember I’ve always had music playing in my head – during literally every waking moment and frequently in dreams too. I’m not talking about ear worms (when one gets a song stuck in their head, although I get that too). I mean like a constant soundtrack that only you can hear.
In my case it’s often about three quarters of a bar looping over and over, changing gradually. Often it will start as a longer phrase but will progressively narrow into just a handful of notes, often looping around at an odd point. Or the next bar will fade in over the top of the previous one while it’s still playing.
I’m aware that it’s in my head rather than a real sound occurring in the room. The timbre is usually somewhere between humming and breathing mixed with an orchestra. It gets extremely vivid when I’m tired or stressed, to the point where it can keep me awake. Sometimes at moments of extreme emotions (positive or negative ones) I start to perceive colours too, in the same way that anyone can see anything in their mind, but it’s always the same colour (a neon green on a background of very pure white and black).
I also have synesthesia – the sensation of perceiving colours and textures in relation to music. I wrote about it for Guitar World here.
I know I’m not alone with this stuff, but I know that not everybody has it either. There’s a book called Musicophilia: Tales Of Music And The Brain by Oliver Sacks which talks about a lot of these topics. You can order it here. It includes a lot of case studies of people with various music-related problems, quirks or sensations.
I don’t really consider this stuff to be a problem, although it can be kind of annoying when I’m stressed out and need to focus my mind but instead there’s this constant and ever-strengthening stream of sound happening in my head. But for the most part it’s just a welcome little companion. It’s kind of nice to have your own internal soundtrack.
For almost twenty years, all Fender Stratocasters came with a chrome bridge cover. When the Strat was first designed, the bridge itself was considered kinda ugly, so it made sense to cover it up and make it appear smoother and more sleek. The cover has a small notch on one side so that the whammy bar can still do its thing, and when it’s in place it gives the Strat a slight Cadillac vibe.
French metal band Gojira have been a ‘next big thing’ for far too long. They’ve maintained the same line-up since forming in Bayonne in 1996, and each successive album has pushed them closer and closer to the spotlight. But L’Enfant Sauvage is going to change all that. This is the album that seems finally destined to bump Gojira all the way into at least Lamb of God/Trivium levels of fame. It combines a Devin Townsend-esque appreciation for atmosphere and melody with post-thrash rhythms, post-death metal drumming and a live, human element that’s missing from so much current studio-tweezed metal. After a triumphant run during Australias’s Soundwave Festival (which saw Devin Townsend and Meshuggah’s Fredrik Thordendal join them on stage for a historic performance of their studio collaboration “Of Blood And Salt”), Gojira are ready.
“The reason why we did that tour was to see a kangaroo,” guitarist and vocalist Joe Duplantier says of the recent Soundwave shows. “That was our main purpose! The reason why we came to Australia! And then we played some shows with Soundwave. But mostly we wanted to see a wild kangaroo. The last day of the tour we still hadn’t seen a kangaroo so we rented a car and went to the desert. Couldn’t find one the whole day. But on our way back to Perth we saw one, man! The night was falling and this huge kangaroo was jumping, and everyone was screaming in the car.” But now that the hunt for bipedal marsupials is over, Gojira is getting down to business. L’Enfant Sauvage is their first album on Roadrunner Records. It’s a diverse collection of tracks, some heavy, some more ambient, with an unusual amount of colour and drama for most bands other than Devin Townsend and Cynic. “I don’t listen to metal a lot,” Duplantier explains. I listen to Massive Attach and Morcheeba and Radiohead, Portishead. My brother [Mario Duplantier, drums] likes Indian music. Christian [Andreu], the other guitar player, doesn’t like music at all! He likes silence! He’s like, “Wow, this is the best.” And the bass player [Jean-Michel Labadie] listens to all kinds of metal. He’s a huge metal fan. So it’s an interesting mix. We have different attitudes, and it creates something more personal. I’d like to think that through the years, as we release albums, it’s getting closer to what we are, closer to the core. It’s a nice feeling. I love this album. We reached something that Im’ really, really happy with.”
So by now you’ve probably heard the news: Geoff Tate and Queensryche have parted ways, and the remaining members – briefly known as Rising West for two shows in Seattle recently – will continue as Queensryche with Todd La Torre on vocals.
As a fan of both Tate and Queensryche, I feel both bummed out and excited by the news. I’m sad to see an effective end called to one of my favourite bands. Queensryche always meant a lot to me, especially Promised Land, for many reasons – Tate’s vocals, his lyrical intelligence and creativity, the band’s overall sense of melody, the rhythmic interplay, and of course great guitar work. I always respected the band’s earlier, more metal days, but for me Queensryche were at their best when they were pushing and pulling between their heavier sounds and their more melodic side. Check out the song “Open” on the overlooked Tribe album or “Right Side Of My Mind” from Q2K for examples of what I mean. Yeah, my view on Queensryche is not the popular one (Y’know, “Everything after Mindcrime/Empire/Promised Land/Hear In The Now Frontier [select one depending on which came out when you were still a teenager] sucked”), but as a listener all you can do is respond to what affects you emotionally, and there it is.
But as someone who really liked Geoff Tate’s solo album, I’m also excited by this outcome. Tate will now be free to explore whatever it is he wants to do as a solo artist, without clashing against the idea of what Queensryche is – an idea held by fans, his former bandmates and maybe even Tate himself. There seemed to be a definite disconnect between what Queensryche as a collective wanted to do and what fans would let them do. But now the fans who wanted the older, heavier stuff will be happy, and the fans who followed Tate beyond Operation: Mindcrime into Empire, Promised Land and the like may just find something they can connect with on Tate’s forthcoming solo album (which he has referred to as hard rock with progressive influences). And the rest of the guys will be free to play the heavier stuff and to create new material in that vein. And fans who liked both the earlier heavy material and the later stuff might just have two cool bands to follow now instead of one. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing what Michael Wilton gets up to now that he’s being freed up to write heavier Queensryche material again.
By the way, Geoff, if you need a guitarist to do a Promised Land 20th Anniversary tour in 2014… *cough*
Woo! I can’t wait to hear this album! Read about it here.
There was a particular year of my life where my musical diet consisted of walloping amounts of Mike Keneally (particularly Sluggo! and Boil That Dust Speck) and a few XTC albums (along with Devin Townsend’s Ocean Machine – Biomech). So the very thought of an album featuring songwriting collaborations between Mike Keneally and XTC’s Andy Partridge is just too awesome to comprehend – in the ‘awe’ definition of the word awesome, not the surfer dude one.
I was just cruising around Gibson.com and I came across this: the Gibson SG Standard 24 for American Music Supply. Look at this thing! Just LOOK AT IT! Argh, how cool! It bums me out that this is an exclusive model that I guess won’t find its way to Australia. I love mini humbuckers (I used to have a Firebird with Seymour Duncan mini humbuckers which sounded awesome), I love SGs (I’m Australian – we’re genetically predisposed to like SGs because of Angus Young), and 24 frets are ear-shredding fun. From a tonal perspective a mini humbucker in the neck makes a lot of sense: it focuses the pickup on a narrower area of the string, giving you a tighter and more focused sound. I’d love to get my hands on one of these, but alas, I fear I am doomed to miss out. Still, phwoar.
TC Electronic is particularly known for their amazing reverbs and delays, but the company has quite a handle on gain-based effects as well. Case in point: their brilliant Nova Drive, a programmable, digitally-controllable analog drive unit. But not everybody wants to sift through digital presets and learn parameters and memory banks and the like. Some players just want to turn some knobs, dial in a killer tone and play. That’s where the Röttweiler Distortion comes in.
The Röttweiler Distortion is built using the same basic ‘hammerhead’ rugged die-cast aluminium chassis as TC’s excellent TonePrint pedals and the revolutionary PolyTune tuner, and purely from an aesthetic perspective it looks really cool. I like TC’s design sense. There are four control pots, Gain, Level, Bass and Treble, along with a two-way Voice switch which governs the midrange profile. There’s an input, an output, a True Bypass switch, a really quite bright red LED to indicate that the effect is on, and a 9v DC supply jack. Battery access is through a handy little turn screw on the bottom.