Sound — 10
Australia. The land referred to as "down under" and the land that is home to some HUGE insects and creatures that shouldn't be living in this world. But, I'm not here to talk about the ridiculously sized spiders that could eat me in one bite. I'm here to talk about the greatest thing to come out of Australia, and that is Parkway Drive. I'm sure (if you're a fan of metalcore) that you immediately think of them when you hear about bands from Australia. They have been dominating the metalcore scene in Australia (and the US) for years now. The new album, "Atlas", marks their fourth full length release, and I can easily say that it is slowly becoming my favorite Parkway Drive album. Quite possibly my favorite metalcore release of 2012. I have been a fan of Parkway Drive since their first album was released, and ever since then they have gotten progressively better with each release. That's a hard thing to do, especially in a genre that is usually dull and has no progress. "Deep Blue", their album from 2010, showed a different side to Parkway Drive. It was a story album, and the production (along with some of the music) was different than previous releases from the band. Many fans loved the album, but many also thought it was a disappointment because it wasn't on par (in their opinions) to "Killing With A Smile" and "Horizons". I can tell you though, that if you were one of the ones that did not like "Deep Blue", or if you absolutely loved it, you will love "Atlas". From the moment "Sparks" rings in until the end of the album, you are given one of the most passionate and heavy hitting albums of 2012. The guitars shred faster, the drums hit harder, and the breakdowns... Well they are wicked. Any fan of Parkway Drive will recognize their signature style on this album. You'll hear hints of earlier releases, while also hearing hints of "Deep Blue". But most importantly, the band grew their sound even more on this album. It sounds more fine tuned than "Deep Blue", and the production sounds clearer.
Lyrics — 9
Excellent, according to a press release, the album, which follows 2010's "Deep Blue", finds the band reflecting on their constant travels, with global themes permeating Winston McCall's lyrics. "The album was written at a time the band was travelling very extensively which had a major effect on the lyrics," the vocalist said in a statement. "While there is no overarching theme, the songs resonate with the travels we as a band have made, and the effects they have had. This has lead to some of the harshest, and also some of the most personal lyrical content that we've ever put to music. In every way, this record has been shaped by the experiences that shaped us a people."
Overall Impression — 9
Some of the songs that really stuck out to me while listening to this album were "Wild Eyes", "Swing", and "The Slow Surrender". "Wild Eyes" may have become my favorite Parkway Drive song. Ever. The first note that rings in on guitar, mixed with the slow chants that work their way into the start of the first scream just set up such a fantastic song. Then one of the best guitar riffs ever written by the band lead you into the rest of this perfect song. It reminded me of the "Horizons"-era Parkway Drive while still showcasing their growth. The same can be said about "Swing". This song reminded me even more of the older Parkway Drive. It starts off fast, and doesn't let up at all. The song goes on and sounds fantastic, then some drumming kicks in that leads you into what you know will be an epic and classic Parkway Drive moment. Then you hear vocalist Winston McCall start screaming "SWING" over and over. And the moment that comes next is intense. "The Slow Surrender" starts off with a low tone and keeps that throughout the song. The musical composition of this song really stood out to me. Parkway Drive has always been a fantastic band musically, but something about this song really made it stick out. The riffs in it, the drumming, all of it blended together just makes for a great song. There's a very odd moment in this song though where you hear a DJ scratch mixing the vocals. It is incredibly odd to hear, but it works so well. I actually really love it. It's a nice, very odd addition into a song, but it fits. This whole album is full of extraordinary riffs, pounding drums, and the great vocals of Winston McCall. I could take the time to write about every note, every lyric, and how great each song is, but it's really something that you just need to listen to. Whether you have been a fan of Parkway Drive from the beginning, or you are a new fan hearing them for the first time on this album, you will fall in love with it. There isn't one thing about it that I would change, and that's how I know I really loved and enjoyed an album from a band. Parkway Drive have already established themselves as a powerhouse in the metalcore scene around the world, and with the release of "Atlas", they have proven that they deserve to stay at the top. Do not sleep on purchasing this album. It is worth every penny. I'm incredibly excited for whatever the band has planned for the future, and you should be too.