WORDS: Eddie Sims
Ire starts off with a sort of very brief déjà vu. It sounds like PARKWAY DRIVE, but not quite the PARKWAY DRIVE we remember, like a far more matured and educated beast. One that up until incredibly recently had been silently planning its ballsy next move.
Ever since the Australian quartets first piece of work Killing With a Smile, they had been aggressively and hastily climbing the pecking order until their seminal Deep Blue dropped and solidified them as THE metalcore outfit, proving a complete mastery of the genre. It is here that it perhaps takes a turn for the worst. Whilst Atlas was certainly anything but a bad album, it took a dent in the bands creative flow and caused them to stop and weigh up the situation at hand. Carry on up the stream and risk the future of the band or make a massive left turn and try for greener pastures. Well, maybe the pastures weren’t found, but the sound they developed along the way is certainly something to be reckoned with.
Much like Robocop was re-built faster, better and stronger, so too have PARKWAY DRIVE rebuilt themselves as a heavier, better and far more self aware creature than ever before. Don’t be too put off by the barrage of reviews saying that this is a totally new PARKWAY DRIVE. Whilst its certainly true, this is not the same band we all know and love, but they have no abandoned their roots entirely, instead using the metalcore sound that got them to where they are now as a crutch and scaffold to build their new ventures upon. From the gang vocals of opener Destroyer right the way through to the epic guitar leads of closer A Deathless Song, PARKWAY DRIVE establish themselves a departure from the brutal beatdown of old and replaced it with a far more educated and finely tuned anger and aggression. Instead of relying on the sheer weight of the music, Winston McCall instead takes centre stage with his lyrics and impassioned delivery, seeing him not only scream but also take a stab at singing and spoken word, all be it with varying degrees of success. Writing On The Walls has a spoken word verse that is a little jarring upon first listen, especially as it is sandwiched between the bouncing riffs of Bottom Feeder and the Wild Eyes–esque Fractures that perhaps encapsulates PARKWAY DRIVE’s strive for melody the best, with its duel guitar leads and massive chanting chorus. Despite this, the track grows and develops into a fist clenching song of defiance that takes place as one of the best songs on the album.
The interesting thing about Ire is the fact that everything PARKWAY DRIVE are doing is nothing they haven’t done before. The melodic guitar leads have been dotted throughout their entire career and the title track on previous album Atlas set the tone for the two more symphonic tracks on this album. It’s always been there, right under our noses, but now that the focus has shifted onto these elements more so than the constant strive for the next heavy thing makes this album the different beast it longs to be. Even with the first single Vice Grip, which received much hate towards it when it was first released, the power metal style riffs that drive the song forward fit snugly when placed in the context of the rest album. Despite all of this change and alternative highlights of the songs, tracks like Dying To Believe and Dedicated play host to two of the most bone shattering drops Parkway have written to date.
It’s difficult to continuously break boundaries when you yourself set those boundaries in place with previous bodies of work, but that’s exactly what PARKWAY DRIVE have done with Ire. Even if this album is to act as a transition record for the band for the new direction they wish to take it still stands tall amongst the rest of their back catalogue. It solidifies the Byron Bay lads as one of the most vital and impressive bands in the genre, and indeed in the entire heavy metal scene. If the changes made on Ire doesn’t do it for you, then its probably best you re-evaluate before you lose interest in what is soon to be a shining example of just how well progression should be done.
Ire is set for release on September 25th via Epitaph Records