With each successive release of the Bulb archive series, we are watching the progression and musical maturation of Misha Mansoor from his demo days into his professional career as songwriter, guitarist, and founding member of Periphery. Archives: Volume 6 is the third of these releases (they run both in descending order from Archives: Volume 8 (read our review here) and from the early days until the present day), and whilst there are still a great deal of similar ideas that we have seen thus far, other influences and styles are starting to creep in.
The quality of these demos is consistently high and extremely listenable, and this is down to both Mansoor’s eye for detail with the original recording and the mixing/mastering process of these releases. Archives: Volume 6 continues this trend and, even at a curt 38 minutes, we are getting a ton of amazing insights into his creative process and some great tunes.
“Axe Ultra Test” is a downtuned riff-fest that has all the stylistic djenty goodness that we expect, and “Epic Fail” gives us more of the fragile emotion that Mansoor excels at with its melodic, quiet intonations and stirring swells of the feels. And then we get smacked right in the face with “I Lost My Lunch In My Pants” which, as the name clearly informs, shows off his goofy, fun side. This is straight-up Blink-182 pop-punk (yes, you heard me correctly) with a hilarious lyric about the protagonist’s girlfriend and her trials and tribulations with mobile phones. It’s straight out of leftfield and an obvious throwaway, but you can’t help but laugh at it, and it certainly lightens the vibe.
“Illustrated Groove” and “It’s Modular” are both right back into the murky heaviness and speedy metal once again, with the latter an absolute instruction in extremity. “Legatta” is the highlight of the album, utilizing Linkin Park-esque electronica and a catchy groove to throw the listener back to the early 2000s, when music was in a time of transition and rebirth (and the solo, which wouldn’t have existed in that time, is stellar). “Press Enter” is the obvious work of a Periphery member, with a heavy groove and metalcore pacing and it could fit neatly on any of the band’s early albums. “Ringtone” and “The Good Phone” (there seems to be a cellular theme running through this album!) are lightweight attacks of riff sketches and rhythmic badassery, but they lead us into “This Sentence Is False” which is another pop-punk/’core song framework (no singing this time) – here again, we are let into the Periphery band room, because this has all the tell-tale signs of the heart of that band. It has a very Coheed & Cambria feel who always felt like the forerunners to Periphery’s sound and style, and that will hit the right buttons for fans of that major key intensity.
“Tiger 2.0” and “Tiger” are part and parcel of the same composition, but each has subtle nuances that ebb the heaviness into different areas of sticky, danky, prog metal. The album closes with “Unleash The Pwnies” which, with the juvenile name, might make you think that we’re headed to another attack of frat-boy comedy, but it is the most cohesive metal song on here. The drumming is frenetic and brutal, the guitars lithe and blistering, and the bass rumbles like an ancient force of nature. It’s djent of the highest order and it KILLS.
Archives: Volume 6 is another solid, breath-taking collection of demos that is steering us towards the Mansoor of 2020 and where his head (and hands) are at in the present day. It has highs, lows, peaks, and valleys that are eager to be heard by the adventurous listener that isn’t bound by genre restrictions or elitism – this, once again, is a journey into the head of its creator, where Spongebob and Meshuggah meet with a warm handshake and a fun little dance before knocking us all down to the floor and crushing our ears with METAL. Fun, exciting, and creative to the max, it’s a winner!
Archives: Volume 6 Track Listing:
1. Axe Ultra Test
2. Epic Fail
3. I Lost My Lunch In My Pants
4. Illustrated Groove
5. It’s Modular
7. Press Enter
9. The Good Phone
10. This Sentence Is False
11. Tiger 2.0
13. Unleash The Pwnies
Run Time: 38 minutes
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Record Label: 3DOT Recordings