Parkway Drive – ‘Darker Still’

By William Scott

Always evolving and never standing still, Parkway Drive continue to push the boundaries of their sound with their latest instalment ‘Darker Still’. It’s a controlled explosion that continues the band’s journey into the reaches of heavy metal, while keeping a foundation that fans of the band’s earlier work will still enjoy; but it isn’t without its blemishes.

It’s obvious from the outset that these tracks were designed to be played extremely loudly in some very big rooms. Huge, bombastic guitar riffs over vocalist Winston McCall’s wide vocal range seem to follow the classic recipe of the band’s previous two releases in the form of ‘Ire and ‘Reverence’, but this metal superpower has taken it further. They haven’t been afraid to let some of their more classic heavy metal influences seep through, with the big glam guitar solo in title track ‘Darker Still’ being a perfect example of this. There are some incredibly honest moments in this release and many of the more intense instalments come straight from the heart, with ‘Land Of The Lost’ and ‘Soul Bleach’ being particular examples (and highlights) of the band’s ability to dial it back up when the time is right. ‘Soul Bleach’ is almost nodding its head towards earlier releases from Slipknot, while ‘Land Of The Lost’ features that measured stomping beat that has made Rammstein so popular over their illustrious career. 

The imperfections of this record sit near the surface; there is something slightly wince-worthy about some of the vocal line delivery (specifically the introduction of ‘If A God Can Bleed’ was a shuddering moment) and it can be said that at times the record can take itself a little too seriously. One thing that Parkway Drive has always been is unapologetic in their output and the band can be credited with always throwing themselves in elbows first, however this record has lost a very slight touch of that ‘tongue-in-cheek’ finish that made you forgive some of the more outlandish and silly moments in their previous releases. Luckily it stops just short of crossing the line. 

The band’s creative output hasn’t withered in the four years they have been away, but it has diversified into new pastures. You can’t really label this as a metalcore act anymore because, as a force, they are offering so much more than that. Yes, there will be some moments that will make you cringe, smile or laugh, but you cannot ignore the palatability and reach that this juggernaut of an act have. Parkway Drive are already performing in some of the biggest rooms in the country and ‘Darker Still’ will be the soundtrack to some extremely raucous evenings. A quiet start to the 2020’s, sure, but the Byron Bay quintet have fired up the pressure cooker with ‘Darker Still’.

WILLIAM SCOTT

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