A lot has happened since the release of Parkway Drive’s risk taking album “Ire”. The Byron Bay Metalcore band had managed a pair of sold out shows at London’s Brixton Academy in the near 3 year tour run that followed the success that came with the album. A modern piece of Metal with the introduction of clean vocals and increased melody, perhaps a sign of the band maturing. After a surprise show at Camden Underworld that sold out in seconds, where does 2018 find us?
“Wishing Wells” eerie, slightly off kilter, almost Outlaw country opening section has frontman Winston McCall providing a harsh almost spoken word over acoustic guitars. There is a hint at several points that something else is coming and when the Metalcore onslaught suddenly appears, it’s a real hair’s on the back of your neck moment. Driving guitars overlaid with leads smashes through at pace as McCall talks of killing God with a passion and pain in his voice. The variety of vocals on show are phenomenal and it’s an absolutely killer opening track. “Prey” then takes up a more predictable pace with pounding drum fills and gang chant choruses. There is almost a sea shanty vibe going at times which is unexpected but also slightly cringe worthy. “Absolute Power” hints at the bands Rage Against The Machine in style, substance and lyricism, with the band having covered “Bulls On Parade” in the past, it’s no great surprise. You may find yourself thinking about the chorus to “Calm Like A Bomb” and the politically aware lyrics would certainly make RATM smile.
“Cemetery Bloom” returns us to the vocal style of the opening of “Wishing Wells” with McCall delivering lyrical poetry that reminds of something like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds why the band play some atmospheric slow burn music in the background. “The Void” has some cheesy modernised 80’s hair metal guitar work while McCall continues the dark, harshly spoken vocals – that’s spoken as opposed to clean sung. The expected cheesy guitar solo and booming 80’s chanted vocals caress the chorus and we’ve gone from Parkway Drive to something that Asking Alexandria might put out in a couple of years. “I Hope You Rot” then continues that vibe through the improved guitar work and pre-chorus save the track somewhat. When the closing breakdown begins to fade and a solo starts, you almost want that build to continue because it’s started to go somewhere further. “Shadow Boxing” introduce piano work and then some rap vocals with some orchestra infusions into the guitar work. While the vocals switch between a barked rap and a harsh spoken word the guitars deliver a decent backdrop and when some trademark bludgeoning screams appear, it’s a welcome relief. “In Blood” then takes a mixture of the previous elements and melds them together. 80’s inspired guitars cross over with the orchestra work in waves and it’s not until the broken rhythm section that you there is anything that makes you want to move. “Chronos” turns things up a notch with stomping bass lines and classic metal guitars. The big sing-a-long chorus is certainly one which will be inspiring in the festival arena and closing guitar work fused makes the whole thing sound like a big budget film song from a summer blockbuster. “The Colour Of Leaving” is a melancholic poetic tale about the argument with God that happens during tough times. The clean vocals and slow burn almost country direction of the song is darker than some of the bands heavier material, soaked in atmospheres that leave you wondering what you’ve just heard as the sound of the crows brings the song to a close.
There are a number of moments when listening to “Reverence” where you may find yourself thinking “What am I listening to”? or “What have I just heard”? In part, Bryon Bay’s Parkway Drive have created an album that sounds like a movie soundtrack. There is an ocean of variety but still a core sound underneath, even if at times you might struggle to find it. There are some killer moments and certainly the opening track “Wishing Wells” is outstanding work. But there are also times, like the rapping on “Shadow Boxing” which are just painfully cringe worthy. The impression you’re left with is that the bands change of direction in the success of “Ire” to incorporate some more vocal variety and more classic metal lead guitar work has been taken too far. Parkway Drive have been for a long time Metalcore heroes and a move to an Arena Rock sound isn’t one that this Metal Head would welcome. [6/10]