Parkway Drive


Written by: AP on 13/05/2018 13:55:43

In the weeks leading up to the release of “Reverence”, Parkway Drive’s vocalist Winston McCall made a point out of declaring that the band had ‘outgrown metalcore’ and thus sparked plenty of buzz and heated discussion around their sixth studio album. Although it is true that artists need be afforded the license to grow and evolve rather than subscribe to a fan’s square idea of what they should sound like, all too often that growth and evolution merely translates to maximising mainstream appeal at the expense of nearly everything that attracted people to the music in the first place. This phenomenon has especially taken root in the metalcore genre in recent years, and with “Reverence”, Parkway Drive is certainly queuing up to exchange its old robes for a more fashionable wardrobe as well, albeit the transformation not being as total nor as disappointing as what happened to the likes of Bring Me the Horizon and Underoath on their respective latest albums.

Indeed, it would be an overstatement to claim that traces of metalcore no longer exist in the music. “Reverence” simply amplifies the elements that began to seep through the staccato riffs and breakdowns of its predecessor, “Ire”, three years ago, but it is not like McCall has swapped his growls for a more clean style of vocalisation, and those urgent melodies for which the Australian band is renowned are still very much present. Still, there is no tiptoeing around the fact that the likes of “Wishing Wells” and “Prey” are designed to lift Parkway Drive from heavyweights of metalcore to heavyweights of metal. Laced with grandiose instrumentation and sharp hooks, these tracks will be on your lips from the very first listen and seem destined to become massive hits in the live setting, even if they lack the chugs and breakdowns needed to command those intense moshpits that make watching the band live such a riveting experience. In their stead, McCall offers some of his most striking vocal hooks to date, while the two guitarists, Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick, pick out melodies that would not sound out of place on one of the more recent albums by In Flames. “The Void” falls into this category as well, roping listeners into a dense hard rock groove spiced up with cool twin leads, before going for arena domination with its chorus:

It’s alive! Can you feel it taking hold again? / In your mind, all your demons are rattling chains / Welcome to a world of pain!

A lot of talk surrounding “Reverence” thus far has been along the lines of, “This is not what I want from Parkway Drive!”, but as every one of the aforementioned tracks proves, the band has no problems navigating the tightrope between their aggressive roots and wider appeal. The foremost issue with the album is its lack of consistency, with half of the material falling victim to anonymity. After the melodic death metal-esque shredding and dramatic Gregorian chants of “I Hope You Rot”, the record pivots into a second half which seems to have more difficulty to etch itself into the fabric of your memory with each passing song. “Shadow Boxing” is the only track in this segment that really stands out, and it does so by virtue of methods that are sure to split the waters unlike anything else that “Reverence” has to offer. In it, McCall tries his pipes at some rapping-style vocals that grow increasingly frenetic until they morph into growls as dire, epic guitars fall in and drummer Ben Gordon lets loose his double pedals. This part seems to be inspired by Slipknot’s classic “Spit It Out”, and as such it would not be surprising if, in the live setting, it was accompanied by the same “Sit down, stay down / Now jump the f**k up! routine that you always witness at that band’s concerts. Say what you will about mixing rapping into metal then, but McCall actually pulls it off with quite some elegance here.

In fact, Parkway Drive pulls off the entire transformation into a mainstream metal act with quite some elegance. Despite the littering of orchestral samples and pop elements across the album, the band manages to steer away from the cheesiest inroads in their quest to put together a truly big-sounding metal album. Having been treading water for much of their career after breaking through with “Horizons” in 2007, the band has been in dire need of moving on for long time and with “Reverence”, the process of doing so that began with the aforementioned “Ire” is completed at last. The record is almost certain to alienate portions of Parkway Drive’s following, but that hardly matters when, for every departee, the Byron Bay-born outfit is likely to earn a handful of brand new fans. Now all that remains to be done is to repay those fans’ intrigue with a more consistent set of arena bangers than is the case here.


Download: Wishing Wells, Prey, I Hope You Rot, Shadow Boxing
For the fans of: In Flames, Slipknot, While She Sleeps
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.05.2018
Epitaph Records

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