It wasn’t the most conventional find.
On a late Saturday evening, I was in a drowsy yet vivacious mood. I’d settled down at my desk to browse chilled summer pop anthems from the likes of Kygo, Avicci and Belgium’s flagship EDM festival ‘Tomorrowland’ after movies. Happy and content with my choice of genre, I refreshed my YouTube subscription homepage and took a glance at the suggested videos. Of course, having listened to Kygo and Avicci I was greeted with the suitably suggested tunes from Eli & Fur, some ‘recently played’ Ellie Golding remixes and chillstep playlists, which I took an eager glance at, before I noticed an irregular suggestion.
It caught my attention straight away, not just because I had not consciously taken the time to listen to any Parkway Drive material for months, but because it was a recent upload; the Aussie metalcore group had released new material.
I clicked onto it immediately.
‘Vice Grip’ opens with an aerial shot of a small plane grounded in a vast dry desert, alongside a low-pass guitar riff. The rest of the band come in, and we can see them all performing in front of the plane – seemingly to an audience of dust and a few lizards (I’m guessing). Lead vocalist Winston McCall gnarls his way through the verses in the now stripped-out plane interior, which I’m imagining would make for a cosy gig (they like their enclosed spaces – check out ‘Dark Days‘ and ‘Wild Eyes‘). The band then don not-very-cosy-looking skydiving attire, and get to work – well, skydiving.
‘Vice Grip’ has such a different calibre to Parkway’s fast, agile sound found in Deep Blue and Horizons. The wall of continuous guitar melodies in the verses surround the harsh, down tuned tones of the bass and rhythm guitars – not to mention the vocals – and add another dimension to the hardcore elements of the band. By the time we get to the breakdown of the song and the crowd-pleasing chants of ‘VICE’, it’s obvious that there is now no turning back from this new blend of ideas which leave satisfying colours to the palette.
It doesn’t sound like layers of sound piled on top of each other in no logistical fashion. It sounds like an evolution for Parkway Drive.
The metaphorical symbols in this video take the shape of the desert, which represents a vast blank slate, but the plane indicates that they have come from somewhere to get where they are. The skydiving obviously represents the risks they have taken in order to progress and come out the other side with new material.
I usually make the effort not to read the comments below a video which I particularly like but it seems the core Parkway fanbase feel the same way as I do. This new direction, taking their foundations and fine-tuning the ingredients – adding new ones too – feels fresh and for the love of all that is holy, it feels exciting.
Their new album is called Ire, and is due to be released in September. I’m really looking forward to it.
P.S – a note about Parkway Drive.
I am a metal fan. I have always been a metal fan; there is a picture of me on my fridge, aged 18 months, holding a pair of drumsticks with glee. The only band I listened to for the better part of my teenage years was Metallica, ever since I sat behind my Dad’s drum kit and ‘Enter Sandman’ came on the radio.
Since then, my taste in metal has adapted to include bands which formed on the latter side of the year 2000, including metalcore’s finest, Aussie’s Parkway Drive.
I first heard a Parkway Drive song when I was in a cover band at sixth-form. It was ‘Karma‘, and I loathed it from the start. To me, it sounded rushed, and had all the parts of metal which I thought, at the time, were a hindrance to all the genre stood for. Breakdowns? Get lost. Unclean vocals? You’re having a laugh. My ‘traditional’ grounding of Metallica and Iron Maiden was shaken with this new progressive direction which, in my naivety, I had failed to fully appreciate.
Though throughout the time in the cover band, I was introduced to many other notable metalcore icons such as The Ghost Inside (‘Engine 45’ was not too dissimilar to A Day To Remember’s material, which I also began to take a liking to), and I eventually reached a point of no return; this music was totally unlike anything I had heard then or since.
It wasn’t until I heard Atlas, Parkway’s fourth and most recent album release, that I was in the right mindset to fully absorb myself in the music. I vividly remember listening to ‘Dream Run’ and ‘Swing’ on repeat in the summer of 2013 and thinking that nothing could be heavier, nothing could be this… metal.