29 October 2012
by David Keevill
The progression in sound from last year’s Deep Blue to Atlas does not come at the expense of Parkway Drive’s core sound, but it is a noticeable departure from the sort of relentless fare that they’ve wielded in the past. What’s more, the endless parade of tracks that erupted from the bowels of Deep Blue has given way to a far more coherent and singular beast. Edges are still razor sharp, as the likes of ‘Old Ghosts/New Regrets’ and ‘Swing’ prove with riffs teetering on the edge of angular technicality and still retaining the band’s gargantuan rhythmic bounce, but that’s not all.
Where melodic instrumentals have previously dissected Parkway Drive’s records, often as a replacement for the kind of clean vocals that are gleefully absent in the majority of the band’s back catalogue, the band’s digressions from their metallic core are now as essential as the furious barrage itself. ‘The Slow Surrender’ is a case in point; in addition to the staple vitriolic lyrics, downtuned clean guitars and hammered riffs, there’s a breakdown that dissembles with some record-scratching that is unexpected but adds to the insatiable virility of the song. What’s more, female vocals play through the heart of ‘The River’, without ever sounding incongruous, proving how something that might be proclaimed gimmicky on paper, is anything but in the hands of decent songwriters.
The title track, however, is where the album plunges its meaty paw down your throat and removes the spinal cord via your shattered jaws. Although it lacks the sheer frenetic energy of earlier tracks in the album (see the colossal gang vocals led barrage of ‘Wild Eyes’), it is swollen by an astonishingly deftly executed string section whilst Winston McCall’s vocals display a concern for this planet that have often been referenced in interviews; the pathos cutting through the heart of it is palpable, and it’s one of the first instances where you can see right to the core of Parkway Drive.
Watch the video to ‘Dark Days’ by Parkway Drive:
Not only does Atlas demonstrate a maturity in its attitude to song-writing, but also its place in metal’s ecology. Whereas other bands reaching Parkway Drive’s four album-deep heritage have been content with consolidating their sound, this ambitious Australian five-piece have compounded an already solid back catalogue by slapping fresh layers on meat onto the bone.
Sounds Like: The fury of Unearth and the grandiose landscapes of Darkest Hour .
Standout Tracks: My Heart For Deliverance, Bleeding The Pigs, Raise The Dawn.