Our next piece features two guitar parts. The first (Ex. 5) is a low-string riffer that features some pre-bends and string skipping. Periphery is fond of such riffs because they sound extremely heavy. The secret is making sure everyone in the band is in tune and releases the bends consistently. The band isn’t afraid to use unconventional techniques like this, or even slap-guitar technique. I’m using hybrid picking to pluck the notes on the 4th string.
The second guitar part (Ex. 6) uses a jarring minor second interval that rings out. This is then moved up and down the neck to create something that’s between a melody and a fit of anxiety!
Now, here’s the sound of Ex. 5 and Ex. 6 together.
Ex. 7 introduces a simple time signature change that shifts between 3/4 and 4/4. The riff begins with a grace-note bend on beat 1. Notice how the motif is displaced by a single 16th-note on beat 2 before heading into the measure of 4/4. The more you listen to Periphery, the more you’ll discover examples of complex rhythms that take several measures to resolve, which is a classic trait in Meshuggah’s music.
After the riff is played twice, it’s followed by a scalar passage that includes a slide and moves across strings to allow the notes to ring out. This juxtaposition of crushingly low riffs and crisp, ringing melodic ideas are another aspect of the band’s signature sound.
Our next riff (Ex. 8) is inspired by Periphery’s 8-string tunes and again features a blend of heavy riffs and single-note melodies. The key part here is the chord voicings played at the end of the first measure and at the start of the second. These four-note voicings are just power chords, but rather than playing just the root, 5 and root an octave higher, another 5 is added on the 3rd string. When played with a heavy palm mute, these are the classic “djent” chords.
The final example comprises four guitar parts: one rhythm, two layered clean parts, and one lead guitar. What I find interesting in parts like these is that it demonstrates a clear appreciation of chord changes and how to outline them with melodies. The band often abandons conventional major scale harmony, as the changes are predictable. In Ex. 9, you can hear an Eb5 power chord played for two measures before we add a Gb (b3) into the mix.
The first clean guitar part (Ex. 10) holds a major chord shape (in this case, Eb major) and picks it with an intriguing rhythm before switching to a minor voicing with a major 7.
Our second clean part (Ex. 11) has a slightly different rhythm, and uses open strings for a distinctive timbre.
The final part (Ex. 12) showcases an almost jazz-like approach, using the Eb major scale (Eb–F–G–Ab–Bb–C–D) over the first two measures before shifting to the jazzier Eb melodic minor scale (Eb–F–Gb–Ab–Bb–C–D) over the final two measures. This makes perfect sense since the first clean guitar part hints at the minor/major 7 sound.