Parkway Drive – Ire

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After three years, the Australian metalcore quintet Parkway Drive have finally returned with a follow-up to their highly acclaimed Atlas. Time flies, and these surfing lads keep exploring new musical grounds. Harsher critics may sigh in relief: ‘Finally, after releasing three identically sounding records in a row.‘ In truth, everyone close to the metalcore genre somehow has to realize that such a genre – made by combining death metal aggressive riffage, relentless growling and hardcore-punk energy – has its boundaries. Let us make this clear: Parkway Drive is not crossing these, but they do seem to be drifting on waters previously unexplored.

For a band active for over a decade now, that travelled around the globe couple of times – enjoying it to the fullest by the way [1] – it took them some time to realize the predicament they were in. If they had released another ‘solid’ metalcore album with nothing more than robust breakdowns, vivid drums patterns and screaming that makes you shiver every time you turn up the volume, they would only prove they are biting their own tail. Instead, they reached out for solutions not yet used before in their formula. What strikes from the album’s opener, with the rather straightforward title ‘Destroyer’, is the effort put in the guitar leads, which previously were either absent or done seemingly reluctantly.

When it comes to braver experiments, listener will note how close singer Winston McCall approaches hip-hop vocals in the first verse of ‘Crushed’, yet another tremendously heavy song to roll out of the speaker. To turn our attention to music videos, this tune has been supported by a rather average video effort [2], taking all the undeniable beauty of the song away via cheap CGI effects and clips of band performance. On the other hand, the video shot for ‘Vice Grip’ [3] shows way more involvement as the skydiving scenes in that piece were really performed by the band themselves, showcasing hardcore’s DIY ethic perfectly.

Parkway Drive

Cellos, a violin, a piano, acoustic guitars, and gentle but frenetic whispering – on paper, these elements seem unfeasible to appear with a metalcore group from the sunny Byron Bay. Yet, accept that Parkway Drive has taken a step forward by incorporating these above-mentioned sonic abominations for purist metalcore fans into Ire. As soon as ‘Writings on the Wall’ rolls in with its marching pace, resembling a panzer division rolling on the front, it is clear that this stylistic change – the groundwork of which was laid in ‘Blue and The Grey’ closing their previous album – has only done them good. It has saved the quintet from drowning in the modern metal mediocrity fuelled by dozens of bands with strange haircuts, tight jeans and colourful sleeve tattoos with nothing really valuable to offer. Well, apart from the fact that the formula of worn-out breakdowns, repetitive drum patterns solely based on fast-paced double kicks and mindless screaming from the top of their young lungs is nowhere to be found on this record, which only proves that the Australians are really worthy of attention.

Even if all the lyrical themes supported on the previous records are still in play, Ire brings undoubtedly even more anthems for people devoted to fighting for human rights, ecology and freedom of any kind. With their cannons aimed at worldwide corporations, oppressive tyrants and corrupted politicians, the band bring the new world hazards to light. The lyrics are straightforward and scathing like never before.

All in all, taking into consideration that the band has been around for about 12 years now and still gaining interest – see their live cover of Rage Against The Machine last year [4] – and still delivering vivid, robust and to a certain extent varied music, means only one thing. They are far from either stepping down from the path they chose long ago, or following the skinny youth bands mentioned earlier into a dead end street. Parkway Drive have proven with Ire that despite Australia still having a pop culture association with surfers and kangaroos, the country is home to young, creative and devoted musicians making top-drawer metalcore.

Footnotes:
1. Their live DVDs and the exhaustive documentary certainly indicate so.
2. Video for ‘Crushed’
3. DIY attitude applied & enjoyed to the fullest.
4. The anti-establishment classic in a new form.

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