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Album Review: Parkway Drive - 'Ire'

22 September 2015 | 4:38 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

A bold new adventure for a band that has lost none of its bite over the years.

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Parkway Drive is, without a doubt, the most influential band in Australian heavy music. Having first opened locals (then the world's) minds to their own take on metalcore, the band has pushed the boundaries further and further with each release. While predecessor 'Atlas' may've been a bit muddled, the band's fifth LP, ‘Ire’, is no exception to the creative rule, proving that the Byron boys are far from finished with their brand of heavy music, with the group, this time, expanding their creative horizons and pushing their sound in a direction a majority of their fellow peers would not dare go.

From the opening drum sounds of ‘Destroyer’ it is apparent that this is a Parkway outing like no other. The aforementioned is a thunderous march, which heralds in a new era of Australian metalcore. While the riffing is still essentially Parkway Drive, the steady groove and conventional song structure is a surprise at first, but also a refreshing change. Most notable is the dual guitar harmonies over the breakdown, adding an almost Iron Maiden-like atmosphere to the song. ‘Dying to Believe’ sees the pace pick right up though. A harken back to the ‘Horizons’ era, the song moves between thrashing fury and the heaviest of half time drops. Winston McCall shows that he has lost none of his ability as one of the world’s most fearsome vocalists, literally spitting out the bridge of the song before launching into one of the most guttural roars ever committed to a Parkway record.

Singles ‘Vice Grip’ and ‘Crushed’ keep the energy up, but it is on ‘Fractures’ that the true creative ambition of Parkway Drive begins to show itself. The anthemic ‘woooahs’ of the chorus soar above a furious gallop, which allows the song to groove like no other track in the band's back catalogue.  The inclusion of percussive elements such as the cowbell, congas and wind chimes give this song an orchestral aura - a true highlight. ‘Writings on the Wall’ continues to step things up creatively, with a string prelude opening the song, before it breaks way into a slow, mournful march, capped off by the fearsome whispers of McCall. ‘Put your hands up, put your hands up// we’ll fight until we die, this ain’t ever gonna stop’ chants the singer. While somewhat cheesy, it is a summation of the creative mindset of the group, pushing all boundaries possible to keep themselves afloat. The song slowly builds, with subtle guitar and piano leads giving way to the angry chugs of the rhythm section, before the track opens up into a bridge that soars, and then drops abruptly into a crushing chorus. In what must be the only documented case of strings in a breakdown, ‘Writings on the Wall’ will divide the Parkway faithful, but reward those with an open mind.

What is apparent is the way Parkway has developed both as song writers and as instrumentalists. Where previous outings like ‘Killing with a Smile’ saw guitarists Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick frantically shred away at every riff they could, ‘Ire’ shows control mixed in with the chops. The result sees listener’s attention drawn to the melodic aspects of songs, ‘Bottom Feeder’ serving as a prime example. ‘The Sound of Violence’ is upbeat, but more controlled in the axe department, resulting in the song being far easier to follow and enjoy. The song speeds along before dropping into a breakdown styled chorus, a sure to be live favourite.

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Ethnic sounds play a major role here. The Indian vocal tones in the opening of ‘Crushed’ and the percussive elements of ‘Fractures’ see the band exploring the sounds encountered on their worldwide travels. The thumping, four on the floor ‘Vicious’ sees Sitar in the introduction, setting an eerie atmosphere. The lack of breakdowns may alienate some - that is until they hear the outro of the fast and furious ‘Dedicated', a true slab of vintage Parkway to get the kids spin kicking away in delight. ’Ire’ closes with ‘A Deathless Song’, a five and a half minute epic. Beginning with the soft and mellow tones of dual acoustic guitars, the song then breaks into a slow and epic fanfare, evoking the imagery of the rise and fall of the waves. The chorus is sure to be one hell of a sing-a-long, soaring out over the slow, atmospheric thunder provided by the band.

The last tones heard on ‘Ire’ are not distorted ones but rather a string section playing the main riff of the song. A true summation of a brave and unique album.

'Ire' is the album Parkway Drive needed to produce to remain fresh and relevant. When approached from a purely musical perspective, this album is a fantastic, unique exploration into the world of metal. It's powerful, it's loud and despite all the change, it's Parkway Drive firing on every level.

1. Destroyer

2. Dying To Believe

3. Vice Grip

4. Crushed

5. Fractures

6. Writings on the Wall

7. Bottom Feeder

8. The Sound of Violence

9. Vicious

10. Dedicated

11. A Deathless Song