REVIEW: "Reverence" By PARKWAY DRIVE
Heavy Metal/Metalcore/Released May 4, 2018/Epitaph Records
Parkway Drive has long been one of the most notable bands to come out of the the mid-2000's metalcore boom. And as such have easily survived the genre's decline in popularity better than many of their peers. The band however began trying to escape their metalcore moniker beginning with their 2015 album Ire which featured less intense musicianship and tracks that lean more toward rock than metal or hardcore. Now after dipping their toes in experimentation with Ire, Parkway Drive look to become a whole different monster with their latest album Reverence.
Something to note with Reverence is that the band hasn't abandoned metalcore completely. Despite the band's statement that they've "outgrown metalcore", most of the album's heaviest moments fall back on the genre's tried and true methods of chuggy riffs and rhythmic breakdowns. And as promised, the album is much heavier than Ire was.
Many of the tracks on Reverence hold a common trait of being theatrical in nature. Symphonic and occasional electronic instrumentation can be heard on many songs along with Winston McCall performing dramatic spoken word verses on tracks like "Cemetery Bloom" and album opener "Wishing Wells". This gives the album a strong level of cohesiveness that keeps the album consistent despite it being new territory for the band.
Getting into the songs themselves, opener "Wishing Wells" is the heaviest on the album and echoes the band's metalcore roots. Albeit in an interesting new way with the slow, acoustic intro with spoken word and horn instrumentation. "Prey" instrumentally sounds like something Alestorm could've written with it's pirate-y sounding main riff and big anthem chorus. Parkway Drive are no stranger to anthems and they pull it off quite well here. It doesn't go over as well when they try it again on "The Void" however. The main riff sounds like something from Avenged Sevenfold's Hail To The King album, (which itself was on the bland side), the song structure is a very basic verse/chorus arrangement, and the chorus is very cheesy making the song feel like a conscious shot at radio play. It's a glaring black eye for the record and is easily the worst song on the album.
The latter half of the album features some of the record's best and heaviest cuts to help you forget about "The Void". Notably "Shadow Boxing" stands out with McCall performing a rhythmic singing style that borders on rap in the verses and the band's best usage of symphonic elements on the whole album. Strings amplify the choruses making the track feel more epic and provide a distinguished atmosphere in the calmer moments with melodic singing being featured often. Closing track "The Colour Of Leaving" is a fitting end for the album with it's somber mood and quieter nature. McCall's singing is soft and mellow staying in a comfortable range for him. And is accompanied by simple, clean guitar work and a classical string arrangement that is the primary element in moving the track forward.
Reverence is definitely the most different album from the rest of Parkway Drive's discography. A band that was formerly about busy instrumentation and relentless aggression have found ways to harness atmosphere and create an album that feels almost like a play moving from act to act with many changes in mood and direction. It's far more confident in it's exploration than Ire was and the band seems more sure of themselves in where they want to take their music. While the album is strong as a whole it doesn't contain as many blockbuster "hits" like previous albums did outside of "Wishing Wells". There aren't many tracks that instantly grab the listener like a "Wild Eyes", "Carrion", or "Crushed". But if enjoyed as a whole complete album, Reverence holds up to the rest of the band's discography.