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Parkway Drive - Reverence - CD -

Price per Unit (stuk): €16.95

15 years and 6 studio albums is a massive achievement for a metal band from a small hippie town on the east coast of Australia. It’s within this achievement that a few greater facts rear their banging little heads. Parkway Drive never asked for, nor expected any of this to happen. 
What started as a small project to play something ‘heavier’ and give their mates something to mosh to has become a worldwide force. Not since AC/DC has a band from down under completely dominated the overseas market playing music from the rock and-then-some spectrum. 
Why does any of this really matter when reviewing Reverence" Context. This isn’t an album that can be reviewed with full consideration of their back catalogue, (some, but not full). The metalcore that surged them to the forefront of the heavy music scene both at home and abroad is quite removed from the metal found on album number 6. There are a few moments of nostalgia and nods to their past, but the 10 tracks that make up Reverence are delivered by a different Parkway, driven by grief and delivered by familiar passion. On it’s own, this is as diverse, brilliantly composed and expertly performed as any metal album can be in 2018. Is this a difficult album to embrace when comparing to their previous work" Possibly. Is it a ripper collection of tracks tied together by a central theme of death and acceptance that easily stands up as an album of the year candidate" Definitely.

Our walk through the valley of death (albeit a contrasting visual image if you consider the sunny beaches of Byron Bay), begins with the belting first single Wishing Wells. This is 2018 Parkway Drive, and it’s as ferocious and familiar as any lifetime fan would hope for. The real progression evidently lies in the subtle differences in both Jeff Ling’s punishing lead guitar and Winston’s throat-ripping delivery. Aside from a familiar sounding metalcorey riff in the latter part of each verse, this track is thrashier than the norm, garnished with a meatier vocal performance from the aforementioned frontman. McCall walks a tightrope of speaking verses, low growls and hardcore shouts more expertly than any peer currently active. This may well be a top 10 song in their entire discography. A timeless quality ensures repeated listens are a guarantee.

Official lead singles, Prey and The Void are a contributing factor to the initial concerning expectation for Reverence as a whole. Both are highlighted by huge choruses, simpler guitar work and bouncy, catchy riffage. Is it jarring on first listen" Absolutely. BUT, only when comparing it to their previous work. This is where any comparison of Parkway’s hit-laden back catalogue needs to be avoided. The description given doesn’t contain anything remotely negative. These songs are born to be played at festivals. They are fun and nothing more. One undeniable quality both enjoy however is their pacing. A true credit to the group as songwriters. More so The Void, but both songs are super easy to listen to and neither overstay their welcome, despite clocking in at around 4 minutes.

Elsewhere, Cemetery Bloom can be filed between epic movie score and gothic poetry. Yep, it’s a love song. Despite only being the 4th track, it works as an interlude of sorts before the catchy riff of The Void hits, but as a stand along song it has a odd calming feeling. 
In Blood and Chronos could easily fit somewhere on Deep Blue and Horizons respectively. The former is vintage Parkway Drive, with Ben Gordon’s striking drum work, standout leads and the albums most identifiable breakdown. Chronos clocks in beyond 6 minutes as Parkway’s longest song ever, but these 6 minutes absolutely fly by. It’s a riff monster. One chock full of catchy guitar work, tantalising drum work, and a heart-warming lyrical throwback to Horizons epic closing track, ‘In time, all find an end’. These particular tracks are buoyed by the style that made the 5 piece the metal core standard bearers. Not since the frantic closing moments of ‘Set to Destroy’ from 2010’s Deep Blue have Parkway sounded like their old selves as they do on these two tracks. Miss their old sound" Just jam these two tracks and don’t stress about it.

Reverence cannot be instantly judged by the material that came before it. The boys have grown up and 40 minutes of riffs, screams and breakdowns just doesn’t cut it for them anymore. For a group who had no expectations on where their career in music would go, it is quite remarkable that after 6 full length albums they continue to push the boundaries of what metalcore can be. 80’s influenced guitar is the central sound element to this record, with every genre explored, refined and nailed thereafter. Friends, partners and pets falling to the cruel beast known as cancer result in a lyrical theme of grief, delivered in anger, frustration and sadness by a beastly Winston McCall. 

Where to from here for Australia’s finest heavy music exports" On Atlas, Winston screamed ‘like the sky I will always be empty’. That emptiness may be the only limit to the boys now. To release another album of pure quality, albeit riskily, is a testament to Parkway Drive as both people and songwriters. The hardest working band in metal have always remained true to themselves. If you want to deny the true weight and potential of this record, that is entirely up to you. Nothing is going to stand in their way. Absolutely nothing.

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