Parkway Drive – Reverence (Album Review)
Parkway Drive – Reverence
Released: May 4th, 2018
Winston McCall // Vocals
Ben Gordon // Drums
Luke Kilpatrick // Rhythm Guitar
Jeff Ling // Lead Guitar
Jia O’Connor // Bass
Are you ready for the BEST album Parkway Drive has ever released? A bold statement to make, but a true and honest one from this writer in general who has been a HUGE fan of PWD and their progression as musicians since 2007’s Horizons. The thing about this band is when they do albums they want to do, it works (IRE, Deep Blue) and when they succumb to fan pleas and calls to make an album like their earlier work (Atlas) it doesn’t work as well as expected. So I for one am glad they’re doing what they want to do and are trying new things along the way, especially since this album heads more in the power metal area which means, larger audiences, bigger stage shows and a fuckin mature sound for a band who have finally honed in on their craft.
The album kicks off with the first single ‘Wishing Wells‘ and nothing has been changed or altered from when this song debuted in our lives on February 28th when a video featuring nothing but frontman Winston McCall screaming his lungs out gave us a glimpse of what the future held for the band. Opening with an acoustic guitar and wind blowing/birds chirping sfx, McCall‘s soft, yet alluring vocals bring us in and send shivers up our spines with the lyrics “I spoke a vow today and asked if god would come and play/ I’ve dug a shallow hole for him to sleep”. This continues until a drop in the song features an all in effort with Jeff Ling‘s power metal-esque riffs taking the spotlight as Winston’s screams intensify as he bellows out the words “UNTIL I’M DONE” over and over again until the song officially kicks in and we’re underway with speed and ferocity. It really is a battle of the guitars with this one as Ling and rhythm guitarist Luke Kilpatrick bounce back in force in what seems like a cat chasing mouse styled playing. Having spoken to Winston recently, he said he’s now in a position where he can use his voice to the best of his ability instead of just screaming for the sake of it and that is apparent with the many different styles he has within this song. There’s deep guttural growls, soothing talking and clear yelling, a welcome change for newcomers who have wanted to get into the band for years but were turned off by the inability to make out what was being said. The song ends just as fast as it started with powerful riffs and whammy bar use as Ben Gordon smashed the kit like there’s no tomorrow. All of that from the first song, but the best thing is there’s still nine more killer tracks to get through and luckily for us the best song on the album is up next. ‘Prey‘ has everything you want from a band who have progressed from their inexperienced, early years to the now fully fledged metal giants they have become, epic sounding guitar intro that
could SHOULD be used in a major blockbuster movie like Pirates of the Caribbean (or something more violent), catchy as fuck riffage and that talk/singing style that together makes you want to bounce along to the beat. Where ‘Vice Grip‘ on IRE had the sing-a-long chant of “Yeah Yeah Yeah” (which sounds fucking epic live nowadays), this song has plenty of “PREY, PREY, Prey for the Sorrow” chants and will fastly become a crowd favourite at live shows, especially with the guitar solo that leads into the fucking MASSIVE SOUNDING BREAKDOWN at the 3:30 mark. For those still hanging onto the old Parkway style, there’s your taste of the past in a short, but welcoming throwback. The song ends with an all-in sing/scream along that’ll have everyone moving within the vicinity of where it’s being played.
‘Absolute Power‘ is up next and this time bassist Jia O’Connor is on show for the intro with his sexy basslines that take us up to yet again, another heavy offering. This track is 100% Heavy Metal. As the band step away from their Metalcore roots, they’ve taken one giant leap into the big leagues and I can safely say since they’ve dominated the Australian heavy music scene for well over a decade, their next target seems to be the rest of the world and goddamn they can definitely leave their mark with this track alone. ‘Cemetery Bloom‘ follows and for the first time since the opening minute of the album, the pace is slowed down and for something completely different, we’ve got not only Winston McCall reciting what seems like heavy metal poetry, but choir-like group vocals from the rest of the band which sound like they were recorded in an old church or a large, empty room which boasts plenty of echo space. Its different, but not the kind of different you say to someone with a really shit haircut that makes them look like they’ve lost a fight with a lawnmower. I can’t help but think this song would be epic if played in a large, indoor stadium setting or in a deep, dark cave somewhere… But the tempo is picked back up again for ‘The Void‘ which when I first heard it, took me three spins to truly appreciate it. This one also screams Stadium Rock and has a very early Bon Jovi/Metallica-esque style to it (especially the song ‘One‘), however, when compared to previous PWD songs like ‘Devil’s Calling‘ or ‘Vice Grip‘, you can definitely see the band were already playing around with this style long before Reverence.
Side Note: Those three songs played one after another could serve as a great mid-show treat at future live gigs, so if you’re reading this boys, please consider that as an idea. Jeff Ling‘s guitar solo before the final act is positioned perfectly and goddamn that man can shred nowadays. I still feel like ‘The Void‘ belongs in an old 80’s movie soundtrack for something like He-Man (Masters of the Universe), Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure or something starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, especially with the song’s climactic ending.
‘I Hope You Rot‘ is up next and the tempo is increased to 11 for this heavy offering that seems to jump back and forth between the band’s new Power Metal influences and the Metal style they’ve been mastering. I’ve got this big cheesy grin on my face when I think about their upcoming tour and how not only we’ll love seeing them play these songs but how international audiences will lap it up too. It’s no secret the boys have made it big in Europe, but this collection of new tracks will fuckin’ cement them in as key players within the heavy metal genre, especially some of the harder to please areas over that way… Are you sitting down? Good, because ‘Shadow Boxing‘ is a song that FINALLY HAS WINSTON MCCALL SINGING!!!! For years I’ve always wanted to hear what this guy would sound like if he stripped back the screams and delivered a passionate, melody driven performance and this is the first taste of it. Think James Hetfield crossed with Matt Heafy of Trivium and then add some Fred Durst rhyming (yes, there’s that kind of style in it) and you wouldn’t be too far removed from what soft Winno sounds like before the sheer brutalness of the rest of the band kicks in. But don’t stress, there’s still plenty of fast-paced screams to fulfil your needs, this is just an example of how far these guys have come and what they’re capable of nowadays. Pianos. Strings. Clean vs Scream Singing. Riffs. Breakdown. This song has everything and just fuckin’ works so well it’s not even funny. Give it a few listens when you first hear it and I guarantee you’ll be digging it by the third play.
‘In Blood‘ could very easily have been this album’s opening track had they not gone with the first single. It starts off slow, gradually increasing speed all the way to the chorus. I hear elements/nods to bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon throughout too which are a welcoming change and it’s safe to say they absolutely do them justice (and then some). If you were raised in a family of metalheads and your parents listened to bands like the above mentioned, you can bet your arse you’ll be taking them to a Parkway Drive show in the not too distant future. ‘Chronos‘ starts slowly with Ling‘s wailing guitar and Kilpatrick strumming along before a bomb drops and the rest of the band join with destructive force. The primary focus throughout this track is more so on the instruments with Ben Gordon and Jia O’Connor joining their guitarist brothers for a jam session of sorts to showcase their talents. Winston is still present screaming along, but for the entirety of this 6:12-minute masterpiece, the spotlight is on the rest of the band and you can’t help but tune into every sound they’re producing. I also sound like I’m repeating myself but Jeff Ling really is the MVP of Reverence. ‘The Colour Of Leaving‘ once again borders on that different description I used earlier because it starts off sounding like something from a Cowboy Western movie with Winston McCall‘s clean vocals returning and sending chills up your spine yet again with how fuckin goooood it sounds. Why this guy has been hiding his melodic side for so long is astounding but I’m so glad he’s brought it out for this album. The cello/violin string section is back and the rest of the band’s instruments have departed, all but one guitar, then out of nowhere for the final climax of the album (as the sounds of grave digging linger in the background), there’s what I can only describe as a dramatic poetry recital from Winston which takes us to the final seconds of the song where footsteps walk away, crows squark in the distance and the album comes to an end.
Well, that was Reverence and holy fuck what an experience it was. Parkway Drive are no longer the boys from the Byron Bay Hardcore scene, they’re now the men taking on the worldwide Heavy Music industry and proving they’re here to stay. It’s so hard to fault this album when you think about everything they’ve produced. It’s raw, heavy, soothing, calm and hectic in so many ways and styles. They’ve risked tackling something they haven’t done before and completely blown expectations out of the water. This isn’t a new album of churn and burn music, this is a fucking strategically orchestrated masterpiece that’ll be played for years to come and hopefully several songs from it will become staple go-to future classics in years to come.
Parkway Drive – Reverence tracklisting
1. Wishing Wells
3. Absolute Power
4. Cemetery Bloom
5. The Void
6. I Hope You Rot
7. Shadow Boxing
8. In Blood
10. The Colour Of Leaving
Reverence is out Friday May 4th via Resist Records. Pre-Order here
Review by Browny @brownypaul
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