Sound — 7
"Twelve years I've fought for this
Twelve years, my heart still beats
For the ones who've stood beside me
You can't break me"
Vocalist Winston McCall reflects on what has been a successful career on the song "Dedicated." The Byron Bay, New South Wales metalcore band Parkway Drive is in due time for their fifth full-length album, titled "Ire," and once again, signed with Epitaph Records. Let's start off by talking about the lead single that leaked before the initial album release. "Vice Grip" was certainly a song that alienated a number of fans. Was it the song structure that annoyed people? I for one was a bit annoyed because it follows a very simple format. While the lead guitar parts aren't bad, it's also nothing to write home about. In fact, since the song has a mid-tempo feel, it just makes it hard to believe that this is the same band that wrote crushing, fast paced music on albums such as "Killing With a Smile" and "Horizons." Sure, that doesn't make this album bad over one song. In fact, I'll even say it now that "Atlas" was my favorite album from these guys? Why? They took a few necessary, but well needed risks. It was the first album where they really lowered it on the open note chugs, or just chugs in general, and even had a few curveballs to add into it with acoustic, and violin pieces on certain songs. So where does that bring "Ire" to? Did "Atlas" set that bar high already? Are people expecting that growth from Atlas or are more people wanting that old school PWD sound? I'll leave that for you guys to comment on in the comments section below.
But to get back on topic with "Vice Grip," it has a very radio friendly sound that I could honestly imagine hearing if I were to go to a hockey game in Boston. Maybe sports events haven't taken that route to take harsh vocals quite yet, but it really isn't a song where I wouldn't be overly surprised if it got some radio play. The song has an anthem spirit to it, with the chants going on during the chorus. For me, it's a bit cheesy, but even worse once you read the lyrics, which I will mention in that section. Overall, the vibes really represent a Def Leppard sound if you subtract Winston's vocals, which may sound completely off or weird, but it's the best I could think of. So that alone would turn off some fans. "Crushed" also came out with mixed reactions. Is it that people aren't welcoming change? I mean sure, the song didn't quite hit me on the first listen or so, but it's certainly a grower, and I can proudly say that it is one of the best songs on the album. Why? Because they go out of their typical format completely. I have seen quite a few mind boggling comparisons to this song, from Rammstein, to Heaven Shall Burn, to Sepultura, to Rage Against The Machine, and possibly a few others that didn't make any sense to me. I didn't quite catch it at first, but the way the song structure is set up does really resemble a a influence, mainly instrumentally. You can hear a bit of "Bulls on Parade" or "Killing in the Name" there. Vocally, the spoken word part may turn off some fans, but it really resembles an Emmure influence, which isn't totally a bad thing. Frankie Palmeri isn't an absolute train wreck of a vocalist in my opinion.
One thing to really note about the opening track, "Destroyer" is the very catchy bridge/guitar solo that goes on just a little after the three minute mark. On a bit of a higher note, the second track, "Dying to Believe" has to be one of the best songs on this album in my opinion. Winston unleashes his anger after the first few guitar riffs, yelling "Like dragging nails through my skin." But the actual main highlight of this song is also later on when the guitar parts go into tapping mode then Winston uses a spoken word method kind of in the realm of Disturbed, then unleashes his anger, "We'll find you where you sleep." Then that's when old school PWD rolls in back to fast paced riffs and drumming. And just when PWD fans thought Winston's was already Godly enough, one of the best moments is him yelling "Forked tongue motherfucker tell me how the hell do you sleep at night." The intro riffs to "Fractures" sound exactly like "Love Hurts" by Incubus. As for the chanting, and even the way the guitar parts are set up, I again reminded of some strong '80s hair metal influences, but the guitar parts moreso Avenged Sevenfold, especially the guitar solo that fades out during the ending of the song. "Writings on the Walls" has to be the biggest step away from PWD's sound to date. I really want to dig it, but I guess creepy, spoken word parts aren't my thing. In fact, it really gives off a King 810 vibe. Dedicated is hands down the best song on the album in my opinion. Winston McCall really held back on some of his low growls unit later on in this song when the song builds up around drum beats and tremolo picking. Overall, there are some small improvements in the sound section, but is still brought down after how "Atlas" raised the bar high. There are some songs on this album where there are similarities (take "Vicious," for example - it almost sounds like "Vice Grip"). The drums throughout this album use a very basic formula too, and sounds a bit off on the mixing, kind of like the way The Ghost Inside's latest album was.
Lyrics — 6
"We speak in tongues" is a very common lyric I have heard elsewhere before, but I have heard it recently in a fairly recent album I had heard, but I couldn't think of who. That's when a Google search comes into play. It just so happens to be in "Crooked Young" by Bring Me The Horizon from their last album. I wouldn't be bringing this up, but the lyric in this PWD song that is said during the chorus, "Black the sun" is almost the same exact line that is also said in this BMTH one, "Blacker than the sun." So it just seemed weird that I wasn't expecting this after looking that up, but with that point aside, both songs are vastly different from each other, so in the end, it doesn't really matter (sorry for Linkin Park reference). The song "Vice Grip," however would get rated a 4 in this department just because the message has been said over and over again, and quite frankly it's boring, and cheesy. The lyric "Hope for the hopeless" was actually parodied on Jarrod Alonge's debut album that came out earlier this year, so I thought that was funny these guys fell for that. The best lyrics on this entire album, while there aren't that many good ones has to come from "A Deathless Song":
"Breathe your life into me
Because I drown in your shadow
Like salt in the rain
If my fear is tomorrow
Your memory's the fight in my veins."
Overall, PWD kept going in the direction from their last album in this section by not using your typical metalcore lyrics.
Overall Impression — 7
Well, hopefully this album answers a few more questions after the vast changes that were heard in "Atlas." "A Deathless Song" used those violin elements that were also heard throughout "Atlas." As a whole, this album may not be spectacular, but they took risks once again by having a vast number of influences, but they didn't wear those influences on their sleeve, like some bands in this scene tend to do when they change up their sound. I actually prefer that they change up their sound rather than beating their old sound into the ground. Some bands get accused for doing that, and while some will accept this new change for PWD, there will be others who don't.