There’s nothing like playing to your strengths when you’re at the height of your popularity.
It’s OK to take genre-bending wanders through hitherto-unexplored artistic avenues when the fanbase has started to die off (or before it swells), but when you’re at the top of your game in the fickle world of rock, stick to what you know best. On Deep Blue, Parkway Drive does exactly that. Nothing less and not much more. It’s catchy and it’s safe, and goes precisely where it needs to go. But it’s also very good. In the almost three full years since Horizons, Parkway hasn’t changed that much. They’ve just gotten better at what they do.
Engaging the more well-rounded Joe Baressi as producer instead of sticking with metalcore specialist Adam Dutkiewicz hasn’t done a lot to their overall sound but it does show a willingness to tinker with a formula without breaking it. While maintaining that level of melodramatic anger and angst that’s difficult to imagine could still come out of a bunch of surfer punks living a rock n’ roll fantasy (two Top 10 albums, endless world tours, mass adulation), Deep Blue harbours a level of maturity and sophistication that some of the bands they’ve inspired still lack. Among the bursts of furious rage, ridiculously catchy twin-guitar riffs, the insane chugging breakdown in “Deliver Me” and the groove-laden plod in the likes of “Wreckage”, Parkway Drive has also sprinkled some refreshing and subtle introspective moments. They don’t last long before getting swallowed up by the energetic and furious metallic attack however, an attack given further emphasis and focus due to Baressi allowing the rhythm section to breathe under the guitars.
Winston McCall’s lyrics do little to explore much more than the usual PD fare, but they’ve came a long way since the tryhard posturing of Killing With a Smile. His delivery is typically more aggessive and convincing than many others, and on the occasions that the band veers directly into the serious metal territory of the Dark Tranquillity-style “Alone” he steps up with a frost-bitten shriek. These little diversities and his steadfast refusal to adopt any form of melodic clean vocals help to ensure that while Parkway Drive is yet to fully break out of their generic mould they are at the very least staying well out at the head of the pack.
8. Deliver Me
10. Home is for the Heartless
12. Leviathan I
13. Set to Destroy