Release Date: 4 May 2018
Producer: George Hadjichristou
Back in 2015 when ‘Vice Grip’, was released as the first single from Parkway Drive’s fifth album, Ire, there seemed to be slight worry from fans over the direction the band were taking. With a more vintage “Heavy Metal” sounding guitar line, and a chorus far bigger than anything the band had released before, there was a definite change in sound which left many concerned about the record. When Ire itself dropped, however, all doubters were completely silenced as it turned out to not only be one of the best albums of the band’s career, but might just prove to be one of the biggest masterstrokes in modern metal, as it catapulted Parkway Drive into the conversation for potential festival headliners.
If Ire was Parkway making a play for the big-time (and that is meant in a completely uncynical sense), then Reverence is the sound of the Aussie metal squad grabbing the throats of anyone who dared ignore them before and forcing them to pay attention. It is an album made by a band with complete conviction in the direction they were taking and pulls no punches. This belief and conviction was clear when the first single released from the album, ‘Wishing Wells’ opens with an acoustic passage and spoken word vocals marking it as an even bigger departure from past work than ‘Vice Grip’ was before it. Of course, the track then builds and morphs into a completely different beast which is more recognisably Parkway, but even then there is more emphasis on the stomp and groove than anything the band have done before.
This departure can be seen all across the record in how far Parkway Drive have expanded their sound. Every single song sounds ready to conquer arenas, with multiple tracks featuring string sections, keys and the odd synth or two. In this regard, ‘Chronos’ is the benchmark. Possessing all the elements listed above and still managing to squeeze in the breakdowns which Parkway have become known for, it is one of the best examples of a band pushing their sound as far is it can go.
Even with this more expansive sound, there is still time for tracks such as ‘Prey’ and ‘The Void’ to provide more straight ahead slams for all the kids to mosh to. They might not be quite as interesting or textured as other songs on the record, but the sheer size of the riffs and choruses on offer mean that they are just as fun as similar offerings from Ire, albeit much darker in tone and sound, keeping within the overall feel of Reverance.
Interviews surrounding the release of Parkway’s sixth album focused on how it was born out of a brutally tough couple of years for the band and frontman Winston McColl. This really shows on the record more through how damn defiant it sounds rather than having any great emotional weight. There are dark moments on Reverence, seen in ‘Absolute Power’ and ‘Shadow Boxing’ but they still feel like songs which resist against troubled times rather than being swallowed by them. Two tracks in particular feel like they could be Winston’s defining moments as a vocalist in ‘Shadow Boxing’ and ‘The Colour of Leaving’. The later is completely different from anything that the band have done before and is the only moment which feels like there is a real sense of despair which betrays the hardships the record was born out of.
It is completely fitting that, with its themes of defying difficulties and coming out stronger, Reverence is the record to catapult Parkway Drive into arenas here in the UK. It is an improvement on what the band started on Ire in every way. It is bigger, bolder, and at times heavier than anything they have tried before. It is impossible to listen to and not feel invigorated in some way, which is exactly what a metalcore record should do. For any band looking to make the step up, this is one of the best examples of how to do it. With this album, and the live show which has accompanied it this year, there is no longer a question of ‘if’ Parkway will be headlining festivals, it is merely a matter of time.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Prey’, ‘Chronos’