Parkway Drive – Darker Still (Epitaph Records)
Someone give Winston McCall a throat lozenge because this Aussie god has done it again. On Parkway Drive’s seventh album, the band has picked up where it left off on the phenomenal Reverence and delivered once again.
There’s only so many ways you can say a band has cemented their legacy but… Parkway Drive are not only knocking at the doors of greatness but blowing them in with sonic glory.
Nobody does pissed off metal better than this band and while this album isn’t just angry, it’s driven by a furious tempo that barely stops to catch its own breath.
Opener Ground Zero is a mammoth way to kick things off with drumming from Ben Gordan that you can feel in your soul. Expertly produced and even impeccably performed, Gordan is one of the reasons why this band can make you feel the things that you feel and throughout the record he’s tighter than a Yorkshireman’s wallet.
The band has been incredibly open about its members’ mental health struggles and Glitch puts that into stark perspective. “I cannot take one more night on the dark side of my mind,” howls McCall. There are many out there who will feel seen and supported thanks to music like this.
But just when you think this album is at its angriest, it becomes its most vulnerable thanks to If A God Could Bleed. The song has an eerie delivery which conjures memories of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ glorious Red Right Hand as McCall sings as though he’s thinking about leaving a horse’s head in your bed.
In this song, more than anything, he sounds like a man not to be messed with – which is ironic, because anyone who watched the band’s documentary, Viva The Underdog, would have seen a humble, grateful man who still seems slightly shocked at the band’s success despite the weight of all they have achieved.
We’re now three albums into Parkway Drive 2.0 as the sound has developed from Ire to Reverence and now Darker Still.
The sound of those early days has been refined but vocally McCall remains a beast. Soul Beach is one of the heaviest, more relentless songs on the album and has the frontman reversing back to his most animalistic, early Parkway self.
But the heavy is peppered with delicious twists of creativity – like we hear on The Greatest Fear, a song layered with religious undertones from the male voice choir-ish chorus that melts into an angelic harmony towards the end of the track. And the drums! Oh, the drums.
In between it all, there are countless moments that are made for the big stage, the big crowds and the big… everything.
That formula can lead to some slightly repetitive themes, but overall, man. This album is big.