Artist: Parkway Drive
Release Date: 4 May 2018
Review by Tomina Vincent
When I heard that there may be an opportunity for me to review the new Parkway Drive release, I immediately put my hand up. Not only is this one of the most anticipated albums of the year, it is perhaps the most anticipated album of this band’s career, and for a good reason. Parkway Drive evolved from their humble beginnings in Byron Bay 15 years ago as an already great metal core act (and I use this description loosely), and went on to become one of the greatest Australian exports, achieving worldwide success and delivering some of the most compelling works in modern metal. With the stellar success of 2015’s ‘Ire’, the band left fans with a lot to absorb - an album so astoundingly diverse and perfectly executed left us all wondering, is this the magnum opus, or can Parkway Drive go even further? After listening to Reverence, the answer is clear: they can, and they have.
Reverence opens with the Slipknot-esque "Wishing Wells." This is a straight forward and brutally honest track with chugging riffs and a solid rhythm section, which is very much a Parkway Drive staple. This was also the first taste fans had of the new record, and it seems that the aim was to somewhat deceive as to what the overall sound of the album would be, because while "Wishing Wells" is a phenomenal song, it is one of a kind on the album, and every single track after it is completely different and interestingly, a potential single.
"Prey" almost moves the band into classic rock and heavy metal territory with characteristically catchy sing-along sections awash with Winston McCall’s signature distorted vocals, creating a contrast reminiscent to tracks like the highly divisive "Vice Grip." From there, "Absolute Power" thrusts us back into the heavier realm white remaining memorable and listenable with an almost commercial radio-type approachability. "Cemetery Bloom" is another wonderful surprise, opening with a lush Depeche Mode-esque synth and a spoken word intro backed by what sounds like a full choir and a stunning string section. If you were unaware of who’s work you were listening to, the name Parkway Drive would be the last one to cross your mind, and that is exactly what makes this record so incredibly exciting. This trend continues with "The Void", which is a tribute to classic 80’s rock and heavy metal with a huge chorus I can already imagine being screamed back at the band when performed live. It’s important to note that every song on Reverence has a stadium rock quality to it, but there is something about the way the songs are executed that prevents them from coming across generic or pretentious. Every word sang and every note played on this record comes from a special place.
"I Hope You Rot" is a track that in many ways summarises everything we’ve heard so far, while "Shadow Boxing" reveals some beautiful vocal passages including a nod to hip-hop, before opening up into a melodic staccato guitar riff layered with strings and piano. On paper this combination sounds like it could never work, but it does and further more, it achieves something completely original. "In Blood" is one for the production enthusiasts - the mix is of unparalleled quality throughout this record, but the intricacy of the layers presented here has every opportunity to be nothing but a sea of mud. Instead, this is heavy music that sounds as crystal and as well balanced as a classical piece.
"Chronos" is one of the heavier offerings on the record, but once again, the focus is not only on the head-banging inducing riffs and drums, but also on the beautifully catchy melodies and movements, making it another song that can be enjoyed by fans of almost any genre, from pop-rock to metalcore and even classic metal. The epic journey concludes with the emotive "The Colour of Leaving" - a track you would never expect this band to have written. This is a sort of a ballad, a self-reflective piece which to me feels like a sister track to "Wishing Wells", talking about the quiet side of disappointment, loneliness, pain and the aftermath of loss. I am almost brought to tears by this piece of music and I ask myself, when was the last time I felt this connected to an artist’s work. I couldn’t remember.
Overall, Reverence is a colossal album by one of Australia, and the world’s most beloved heavy bands, but that’s only a fraction of what this release truly means for modern metal. Parkway Drive have single-handedly taken every rule that exists in heavy music and thrown it to the wind. This record is ambitious, incredibly brave, painfully honest and not only does it introduce new concepts and ideas into Parkway Drive’s music, but it also opens up a whole new world for artists to follow, confidently carrying the torch of innovation forward into the unknown. Reverence is about to give licence to every emerging heavy act from release day forward, to go forth and broaden the horizons of metal and drag it kicking and screaming into a new era.
10 of of 10
Pre-order Reverence here: www.parkwaydriverock.com
Watch the official video for "Prey" below: