May 3, 2018 Parkway Drive – Reverence (Album Review)
Blistering, bloody Metal lies at the very core of Reverence, Parkway Drive’s latest offering which arrives Friday, May 4, 2018, thanks to Epitaph Records.
Parkway Drive formed in 2003 in Byron Bay, Australia. By 2005, the quintet would release their full-length debut album, Killing with a Smile, then go on to release four more albums – ranging from 2007’s Horizons to 2015’s Ire – over the next decade. There have been line-up changes, ARIA nominations, and a No. 1 album for the guys, all weaving together to formulate a lengthy career that has also produced 1 EP, 2 DVDs, 2 split-albums (one with fellow Aussies I Killed The Prom Queen), and a book (Ten Years of Parkway Drive).
With an exemplary dedication to touring, Parkway Drive have shared stages with the likes of Suicidal Tendencies, Hatebreed, Deftones, Killswitch Engage, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Acacia Strain, Stick To Your Guns, Darkest Hour, A Day To Remember, The Devil Wears Prada, The Ghost Inside, Architects, Emmure, Bleeding Through, Atreyu, August Burns Red, Bring Me The Horizon, The Word Alive, Northlane, and many, many more. They are, of course, Vans Warped Tour veterans.
Now, Parkway Drive – Vocalist Winston McCall, Guitarists Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick, Bassist Jia O’Connor, and Drummer Ben Gordon – are set to release their sixth full-length studio offering, Reverence. The 10-song collection sees these Australians stepping away from their Metalcore roots to explore further sonic territory, crossing genres fluidly but always maintaining that fiery Metal punch to the gut that gives them their heavy categorization. This, my friends, is no Dad Rock!
Reverence starts off gently with the post-apocalyptic, tumbleweeds-a-blowing feel at the beginning of “Wishing Wells,” which ultimately explodes into a ferocity of pummeling bass and jackhammering drums. There’s an assaulting infectiousness to “Prey,” a social commentary on our apathetic, hate-filled, self-medicating demise as a society; an acknowledgement that we are all “prey for this sorrow.” Next, incendiary sonics battle alongside McCall’s seriously gritty vocals and some killer bass-work from O’Connor in the Hardcore romp “Absolute Power,” a vicious glance toward the powers that be.
The intensity of “Cemetery Bloom” feels cinematic in nature, destined to score the next apocalyptic Thriller with its vocal chants, whispered verses, and ominous atmospherics all in the name of self-sacrifice and betterment. Lest you are afraid that these Aussies have gone soft, “The Void” arrives with a multi-layered inferno of headbanging and choruses that beg fans to sing-along; think of a 1980’s Heavy Metal classic that subverts time and you will be tripping happily into “The Void,” a modern world of pain and emptiness.
Continuing to dip into the most classic of Metal territory, Parkway Drive sound like a tried-and-true favorite on “I Hope You Rot,” which is surprisingly modern, topically speaking: the track delves into the weighty subject of child abuse within the Catholic church (“I see their wings are burning, there are no halos to be found”). The ferocity of emotion here creates a truly killer, stand-out offering on a collection full of exemplary tracks! Meanwhile, McCall turns toward introspective lyrics and an almost speed-rapping vocal approach on the gritty dance with the devil that is “Shadow Boxing.” Come for the blistering slaughter, stay for the beautiful string orchestration!
Continuing to mix things up, they turn toward an, at times, Symphonic Metal approach on “In Blood,” with dueling guitars and an overall massive stomp that communicates the band’s legacy of battling for what they believe in (ahem, themselves). Sheer Metal guitars invite ears into the catchy, over six-minute-long symphonically-dusted “Chronos,” an epic, growling romp through the persistence of time. Ultimately, they cycle back to the tumbleweeds and cinematics for the somber “The Colour of Leaving,” a gentle discussion of moving on from loss that includes some beautiful strings (particularly cello). It ends with McCall asking emotional hypotheticals as his footsteps blend into the howling wind.
These days, the second a band is labeled with that wonderful little misnomer “Metalcore,” Metal elitists turn their heads and snub their noses. The irony here is that Parkway Drive have a delicious sense of Classic Metal that underlies much of what they do on Reverence, creating an album and a sound that is perfectly welcoming of Metal fans old-school and new-school; making them a kind of Heavy Metal gateway drug, if you will. One can envision them killing it alongside Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden just as easily as Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir. Which, in today’s Metal climate, is a definite rarity!
On Reverence, Parkway Drive are socially attuned to our modern world, singing of apathy, abuse and self-medicating in the name of “progress,” while acknowledging that there are still those who soldier onward “in blood” and for the betterment of others. Perhaps we are, in fact, doomed, and yet this group of Aussies are celebrating the downfall of humanity with an intelligent, hyperaware collection of songs that sound like gold even if they are heavier than steel. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Parkway Drive’s Reverence 4.5 of 5 stars. Go forth and headbang!