Parkway Drive - Darker Still (Sept 9, 2022)
Parkway Drive is back. Yes, you know the name. In 2005 the Australian Metal band debuted in the metalcore scene with Killing with a Smile. Since then, they’ve honed their craft so to speak, never staying within the confines of what defined the genre. Evolving over the years and diving into the 2015 release IRE , the band moved away from their metalcore roots, while crafting a unique sound all their own and dividing its fanbase at the same time. The follow up to IRE was the absolute GEM, Reverence in 2018, where the band really showed what they were capable of. Were there haters that tried to destroy Parkway Drive’s progression? Absolutely. What did Winston say? FUCK EM. “If you want to listen to that music, then listen to it. That’s why its there.” In a recent interview, Winston McCall mentions he and the band are not the type to sit around and chase their tails. Are you waiting for the Deep Blue and Horizons days to resurface? Sorry mate, they’re not coming back. Winston and the boys have grown up, perfecting an ever-evolving sound as musicians that now rounds out an epic catalogue.
Darker Still brings the heat. Right off the bat, you get your ‘who am I listening to?’ moment, with “Ground Zero” where a xylophone starts it off and Winston hits with some clean vocals, which is a certain difference from the normal scream intros. The spotlight shines bright on lead guitarist Jeff Ling throughout the whole song and album, defining that he has grown so much as a metal guitarist through the years.
“Like Napalm” sticks with the big stadium metal sound with the likes of Judas Priest and creates a catchy tune which will have your head banging all the way through.
“Glitch”, the first single was certainly controversial among social media fan groups, some hated it, calling it “dad rock”, where it focused along the lines of “nu-metal”. This song was the band’s “white whale” according to Winston, where it was built up and torn down multiple times during the writing process. He mentioned it was the first song they started on for this record, and the last one completed. With the sound as big as it is, the theme of “Glitch” is incredible focusing on night terrors and sleep paralysis. and I can’t wait to hear this live.
The second single “The Greatest Fear” just hits following “Glitch”. The song opens with organs and operatic chorus like vocals. This is the LIVE anthem on the record. There are at least two beautifully done guitar solos which roll right into and fit the lyrics so perfect. Its hard to hate on something so cleanly produced, unless of course you are just mad that this isn’t “Swing”. This one has the feels from “Vice Grip” and “Wild Eyes” and will be on their setlist.
“Darker Still,” the title track and boy does it ever live up to its name?! Beginning with calm whistling by world renowned whistler Molly Lewis, and acoustic guitar, you are immediately taken back. This is that territory I mentioned earlier that makes this band that much better than when they just began. This is a legit ballad, with slow riffs, percussion, and clean chorus’s, orchestra, and more. This is the EPIC. This is up there with “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica, regarding how well this is put together. Jeff and Luke’s back and forth guitars make this an instant classic. At almost seven minutes long, “Darker Still”, it has what it takes to keep you interested throughout. Well deserving of the title track.
“Imperial Heretic” has the fullness of an Iron Maiden track with the vocals of Rammstein. A mash up of 80’s anthem metal, 90’s guitar licks, and metalcore/deathcore vocals. Incredible to pull this one off.
“If a God Can Bleed” is a stripped-down spoken word track, to me almost sounding like Rammstein in a way, and gateway to “Soul Bleach”. “Soul Bleach” is the most extreme song on the record. It brings back those roots of “Dark Days” and “Carrion”, while still providing those newer signature Jeff Ling licks. This is the song that will piss off the haters saying Parkway Drive was too old to write a metalcore banger like this.
“Land of the Lost” sends you right back to the IRE days, where Jeff truly began to shine with those riffs and experimental lyric stylists stepping away from the screams and more into the yelling so to speak. This is just another FULL song with a European feel to it if that makes any sense. I hear some Judas Priest and some In Flames in this.
Lets get to the closer. The true Anthem of Darker Still. “From the Heart of Darkness”. Can someone say Motorhead? A true banger of a closer rather than their spoken word album enders on Reverence and IRE. This one has it all, heavy riffs, dark vocals, some sick sound samples in there like chanting and even some sort of brass horn sounds like a ship taking you away from the crazy ride this album just brought you on. This is a repeater. Go back and listen to this record as a whole again and you’ll be blown away at how far this band has come since KWAS. Holy shit. What a ride!
Go pick up a vinyl of this. If Darker Still is the last record that Parkway Drive puts out, this really rounds out their catalogue.
Parkway Drive – Darker Still
1. Ground Zero 2. Like Napalm 3. Glitch 4. The Greatest Fear 5. Darker Still 6. Imperial Heretic 7. If a God Can Bleed 8. Soul Bleach 9. Stranger (Interlude) 10. Land of the Lost 11. From the Heart of the Darkness
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