It’s time for a throwback to your first discovery of heavy metal music moving you to the core. Whilst the genre had its heavy hitter songs that were great to go “full metalhead mode” on your bed headbanging like there was no tomorrow, there were also the offerings of tracks conceived to take the listener on a compelling journey from start to finish – showcasing an eclectic array of instrumentals and story-telling that the mainstream folk would turn their noses up at even considering listening to… and how unfulfilling their lives would be!
When I mention these “journey” tracks, I mean the magnum opuses that captivate the listener from start to finish by taking them on a ride (usually for quite a few minutes in length) and detailing layers upon layers of intricate guitar riffs, gripping drum sections, eyebrow-raising instrumentals, and vocal performances that extend far beyond the imagination of its creators. Think of blockbuster singles cemented in history like ‘November Rain‘ by Guns ‘N Roses, Pink Floyd‘s ‘Another Brick in the Wall‘, and the Metallica classics ‘One‘ and ‘Nothing Else Matters‘ – or for a more modern approach, My Chemical Romance‘s ‘Welcome to the Black Parade‘ and Avenged Sevenfold‘s ‘A Little Piece of Heaven‘ – and you wouldn’t be too far removed from the approach Parkway Drive have taken with their latest single ‘Darker Still‘ – which shares its title with the band’s upcoming seventh studio album – set for release on September 9th via their own Parkway Records.
This is the song we’ll be referring to in years to come where the band went full heavy metal icon mode and left their mark upon the scene that inspired them to pick up their instruments in the first place.
Venturing into new territory with an opening whistle section (seriously, it may seem out of place at first, but you’ll be whistling along with the song on your third or fourth stream), Parkway unite like the tightknit group they are and deliver one of the most impressive displays of musicianship we have witnessed from the Byron Bay five-piece in their two decades of dropping metal bangers in the business. Like many of the songs you’ll hear on this forthcoming record, the spotlight is shining brightly on the guitar hero himself Jeff Ling, who, now at the peak of his playing, capitalises on everything he’s learned and proudly displays it for all to bear witness to. Seriously, there are three guitar solos in this masterpiece and it still feels like he could have slipped in a couple more with ease and precision.
Frontman Winston McCall opts for a clean-delivered vocal performance that highlights the efforts he’s put in to get more out of his iconic voice and the end result is nothing short of incredible. In the lead up to Darker Still‘s release, we will be unleashing a plethora of content from our recent interview with McCall who goes all out explaining the purpose of this album and the band’s motivation to go above and beyond expectations in their quest for musical greatness.
On the conception and recording process behind the single ‘Darker Still‘, Winston took us on our own journey through the creative process, explaining how encouraging Daddy Jeff resulted in the shredder bringing out the best in his abilities and experimentation in this masterpiece:
“That was the goal and it’s my favourite thing that we’ve ever done, straight up. Because that really encapsulates Jeff’s initial dreams of being a guitarist… But we never had the ability to even try something like this up until this album, and we’d attempted to on two previous records and couldn’t do it [so we] rolled it back into a safer sound. He just wrote that riff and chucked the whistling part at the start of it, and we were like, ‘Dude, Nothing Else Matters, you’ve got to write a song like that, we have to make the riff into that kind of song.'”
As it turns out, it wasn’t as easy as anticipated with the band even considering just using the guitar parts for another typical Parkway banger. But they soldiered on and the end result (as he explains) is nothing short of epic:
“It was a two-year challenge of writing that thing. We’d get a bit of it done and then it would seem like this mountain we couldn’t climb and we’d be like ‘It’s so catchy, let’s just make a banger out of it!’ And we’d do that and we’d be like ‘It’s wasted in a banger, it’s gotta be something epic.”
“It has to be epic and it’s got to be the most epic song we’ve ever written. It’s completely different from anything we’ve ever made!” – Winston McCall on new single ‘Darker Still’
Following on from the heavy metal-centric sounds of 2015’s IRE and 2018’s Reverence, the band are running headfirst across the bridge that finds them departing the metalcore roots that made them a household name, into a more mature, gargantuan metal sound which will find them sharing the same stage alongside fellow the metal icons they looked up to growing up – a goal that was once nothing more than an unattainable passing thought for the group. This exploration, combined with Parkway’s amassed fanbase in the European heavy metal scene will see the lads propelled into the position as key players living up to their name as the next big thing in heavy metal, but on a global scale.
For the day-one followers, there are still mind-blowing bangers like ‘Soul Bleach‘ and ‘Land of the Lost‘ that hone in on those heavier/core elements (and breakdowns) the band do so well, but for the wider audience, this is the album that will 100% certify them as the biggest metal export Australia has had since AC/DC.
Strap yourself in and prepare for the unexpected… you’re gonna love it!
Words by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul
The band will also be hosting their first-ever Parkway Drive DigitalXPhysical Gallery and Pop-Up Store on September 10th in Melbourne at OSHI Gallery located at 384 Smith Street, Collingwood. Featuring limited edition apparel, vinyl and merch. Hook in!
Stream ‘Darker Still‘ here
Pre-Order the album Darker Still here
Parkway Drive – Darker Still tracklisting
1. Ground Zero
2. Like Napalm
4. The Greatest Fear
5. Darker Still
6. Imperial Heretic
7. If a God Can Bleed
8. Soul Bleach
10. Land of the Lost
11. From the Heart of the Darkness