A single xylophone is heard as Winston McCall, vocalist of Australian heavyweights Parkway Drive, speaks over the intro to Ground Zero, the opening track of the new album Darker Still. ‘It’s better to be alone than a timebomb waiting to explode’ and on that word the band combusts into a heavy groove with Jeff Ling’s guitar melodies tying it all together.
They go straight into Like Napalm which has a classic metal drive. McCalls vocals are harsh yet sung, the clear dictation a breath of fresh air. The first thing that becomes apparent by the two tracks is that this is not metalcore, this is from a different entity, this is Darker Still.
The album has a northern European metal feel however with a big arena sounding quality. It’s heavy all throughout the album, all big riffs, big choruses, solos and visions of flames and pyrotechnics. Could this be the band’s Black Album?
Glitch is a prime example of this as McCalls vocals go from whispering in a dynamic build of Let me out with pounding drums from behind, the tension snapping like a elastic band into a rage of noise that will see walls torn down once performed to a crowd.
While the album maintains the same pace throughout, which will work for old school metal fans as well as crossing over into a more mainstream area, it’s the title track that stands out above the grooves.
Darker Still begins like a western movie from the 1960’s. A lone whistle as our hero wanders the desert from town to town. The simple acoustic guitar work from Ling the backdrop to the solitude of the songs main character. McCall solemnly croons the story as orchestration and a choir add texture to the song. The solo is astounding and the track grandiose in a movie soundtrack way.
Features of this newer, improved and naturally darkly sinister Parkway Drive is not only the slower, stadium rock songs but McCalls vocals. Rarely does he scream even going as far as brooding on If A God Can Bleed.
Soul Beach is the fastest track on the album. A thumping beat, killer riffs and another chorus that once played live, you can imagine the fists punching the air during chants of ‘kill kill kill’.
Land Of The Lost brings that driven slow riff back. A keyboard melody and another catchy chorus that screams the live show will be spectacular.
Finishing with From The Heart Of Darkness McCall gets deep with his vocals in what has a very 80’s feel with the guitar style. The build up to McCalls bellows ‘fury be my victory’ and Lings solo thereafter is really a quite splendid way to finish the album.
Parkway Drive have over the last couple of albums grown away from metalcore. They are a bona fide arena rock act playing with the other behemoths of rock and they’ve finally got a full album to match. Some metalcore purists may not like it however a great deal many more will love it as they sell out an arena near you soon. Darker Still is the band’s Black Album.
Album Review By Iain McCallum