Essential Albums List - with Mark Holcomb of Periphery

Essential Albums List - with Mark Holcomb of Periphery

- By Ramon Gonzales

A conversation with guitarist Mark Holcomb about the music that continues to be influential to them.

It's been a year since the D.C. based purveyors of Prog released IV: HAIL STAN. While the world collectively tries to cope with the void of live shows, Periphery have managed to translate the energy of their live presentation with a new video for the single, "Follow Your Ghost."

This prompted a conversation with guitarist Mark Holcomb about the music that continues to be influential to them. Holcomb disclosed a quick list of five records that continue to matter to him and why. Read on then watch the latest video from Periphery.


Holcomb - I picked up Master of Puppets in the mid-90s, not being a metalhead at all. But I had just started playing guitar, I knew the name Metallica from MTV, and the cover art looked cool - so I gave it a shot. Right off, "Battery" changed everything. I didn't know a song was allowed to start with flamenco guitar and immediately go to thrash metal. This album flipped everything on its head for me, and the moment the clean interlude in the title track came on, I knew I had to start learning these songs on guitar. As for the songs themselves, they don't lose an ounce of their power all these decades later. Seeing any Metallica show now will drive that point home.


Holcomb - In late high-school I discovered extreme metal - bands like Morbid Angel, Carcass, Death, and so on. I adored all of those bands, but SYL had this blend of industrial, death metal, and raw no-fucks-given negativity, combined with wit, clever melody, and really damn good singing. Of course, I didn't know who Devin Townsend was, so I then discovered that everything he touched resonated with me; his solo records, especially. While the production is quite raw and chaotic by today's standards, the songs are still heavy as fuck and they give me chills to this day.


Holcomb - We all had a Nu-Metal phase but this transcends that whole fad. I bought this album the first day it came out, and immediately noticed it wasn't as heavy as Around the Fur. It disappointed me at first, but I came around really quickly and fell in love with nearly every song. There was a point in time where this was the only CD I listened to, so putting it on now has this time machine effect where I'm transported back to being a weird, anti-social high schooler (laughs).


Holcomb - I could choose any Emperor album here, really. But this one defined what modern black metal could be. The production was by far the best of any Emperor record, the songwriting was all done by Ihsahn so it had this unified, cohesive voice throughout, and all the press building up to it made it clear that it was to be the final Emperor release. So it carried this weight and sense of finality to it. I still adore this record, as well as the rest of the catalogue. There was no better black metal band to do it.


Holcomb - Alien music. I feel like no explanation is even needed here. I bought this album in high school on a whim, since people were telling me if I liked Strapping Young Lad, that I'd like Meshuggah. The first time I heard Chaosphere, I was really put off. I had no idea what was happening. It was disorienting and unnerving. It was the most challenging listen I'd ever had, but had the greatest reward because I eventually heard a band not just pushing boundaries, but smashing them. This record is still iconic to me. Meshuggah and Dillinger Escape Plan taught me there are no rules in metal.


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