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Periphery on their love/hate relationship with djent

The Periphery frontman on the band's early influences and how it led them to new proggy ground

When the whole “djent” thing first came to the attention of the metal public at large, the bands involved may have had a shared love of Meshuggah, but the differences between them quickly became apparent. Cloudkicker was his own idiosyncratic beast, TesseracT were more interested in going off in expansive prog directions, Xerath (initially lumped into the same crowd) are something different entirely and Periphery follow the “prog-should-be-instantly-accessible” mantra.

Fast-forward half a decade or so and, like thrash in the late 1980s or black metal by the time Emperor released Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk in 1997, the original pioneers of the style play music that’s too different from each other to be instantly linked. One key difference, though, is that, while Emperor used Anthems… to declare 'Emperor perform sophisticated Black Metal Art Exclusively', embracing the label attached to them, the biggest names in technically-minded metal will steer well clear of the word 'djent'.

“The whole djent thing… I would have embraced it a lot more had there been a bigger diversity in the music, but the problem with that whole thing was it was born on the internet,” says Periphery guitarist Jake Bowen. “It really started with Meshuggah, and they had no idea that they were starting anything, they were doing what they do, and they’re an incredible band, and no one can touch them, or come close to sounding like them. But the actual bulk of the scene started on the internet.

“What I’ve noticed is that these bands that try to be ‘djent’ only take one or two flavours from the sound, and don’t get the fact that it’s way more dense than that. So you’ll only hear two types of things happening in a lot of mediocre djent bands’ music, and it’s not engaging enough and it sounds like everything else. I think that’s the mistake that these djent bands are making; they’re taking the groove aspect and the low-tuned riffing aspect, then putting some sort of clean guitar passage over it, then they write ten songs like that and call it an album. There’s a lot more to it than that.”

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