Sound — 9
Atlas marks the 4th overall studio album from the Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive. Since their formation in 2002, Parkway Drive has come to be known around the world for their raging guitars, deafening drum beats, volcanic bass lines, and ferocious, screaming-style vocals that have continued to appeal to fans throughout the last decade. After first announcing themselves to the world with their debut album, Killing With A Smile, the members of Parkway Drive have gone on to tour and perform alongside such metal contenders as Megadeth, The Devil Wears Prada, and GWAR. And now, 2 years since their previous critically acclaimed album Deep Blue, Parkway Drive has returned with their new studio album, Atlas, that wields enough power to easily attract any heavy metal follower, and should leave longtime fans chanting for more. This album is magnificently kicked off with Sparks, which couldn't be a grander opening song. This two-minute long track holds a significant Pink Floyd-influence that reminds me of something off of "Dark Side Of The Moon", featuring a marching drum beat and an arithmetic acoustic guitar riff, backed by soothing keyboards and a spoken-word intro by lead vocalist Winston McCall. Within the last 30 seconds it slowly begins to transform with heavily distorted guitars and anger drenched vocal delivery as we transition into Old Ghosts/New Regrets, which maintains the raging metal style that fans have to come to know and love from Parkway Drive. Throughout the remainder of the album, Atlas is simply overflowing with dynamic solos and memorable guitar licks that left me with a strong craving to pick up my own guitar and jam alongside the rhythmic playing styles of Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick. Creativity, raging power, and downright fantastic music are in surplus in Atlas. It is, in a word, fantastic.
Lyrics — 8
Winston McCall is simply an extremely talented and gifted singer, with a voice custom built for heavy metal. Throughout all 12 new tracks that Atlas prominently features, Winston provides some downright dynamite vocal execution that helps give this album a nearly overwhelming heavy metal sound. At times it can be admittedly difficult to understand exactly what he's saying behind those thick layers of anger and rage, but he does such a great job at maintaining his growling sound that I really cannot complain too much. If you listen to the lyrics of Old Ghost/New Regrets, you immediately tell that they're right in line with something you'd expect for this genre of metal: Forever f--ked/ we wage a war of suffering a deceit/ 100 thousand years of dreaming, drowned in a flood of fear and greed/ Precious heritage laid waste before the chainsaws of snarling teeth/ Bleed the earth, bleed her til her heart no longer beats/ And still we wonder why/ As the ground beneath our feet turns to dust/ The air we breathe, laced with poisons/ A legacy of disgust/ A legacy of sorrow/ So we're born with nothing and we die alone.
Overall Impression — 9
Once the album was available for pre-order, I went all-in for the Deluxe Edition, and I have to say you definitely get more bang for your buck. Not only do you get the entire new album, but you also get a DVD documentary of Parkway Drive's 2011 world tour, which features some downright awe-striking live performances of the band performing in several different countries across the globe. My favorite cuts off the new album would have to be Sparks, The River, Old Ghosts/New Regrets, and the title track Atlas. And honestly, I couldn't find any song off this album that I dislike in the least. So overall, I believe that Atlas is a fantastic metalcore album with absolutely no filler, and is definitely worth a place in your personal music library.