The evolution continues

The evolution of metalcore continues for Parkway Drive on their sixth album.

After the switch up to their style on previous album Ire, the band have continued the evolution they began there with Reverence. Opener ‘Wishing Wells’ has acoustic guitars, crow calls and vocalist Winston McCall speaking through gritted teeth, and just as it feels overblown it changes gear and goes for straight for the throat.

The energy and formula carries on into the next two tracks, ‘Prey’ and ‘Absolute Power’. More gritted-teeth vocals from McCall, with gang shouts filling out the tracks rather than the usual breakdowns, guitarists Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick laying down some very good melodic metal like it was 1986. That may sound out of place but it fits seamlessly into the direction the band is attempting.

Things begin to get a little shakier from here though as they begin to mix old and new Parkway to ill effect here and there. When the formula works it works well – they have taken their sound and cleaned it for the massive festival stages they have been frequenting in Europe since before the success of Ire. Songs like the synth and string heavy ‘Cemetery Bloom’ or  ‘Shadow Boxing’ feel out of place for Parkway Drive. Even ‘The Void’ with its more modern synth driven chorus carries more musical weight, even if the solo sounds like something from a Five Finger Death Punch leftover.

‘Shadow Boxing’ is probably the best example of how far they have to coax  fans out of the musical comfort zone. I had to check more than once that there wasn’t a guest vocalist doing the clean vocals as the tone and annunciation changes sounded like McCall at one time and at others like someone completely different.

With all that said, the vocalist is the standout performer on Reverence. For all its melodic twists and turns and attempts at variant styles, McCall’s always keep up. The addition of more of the ‘rapping’ and spoken word parts show he may be the catalyst for so much of the change Parkway are pushing into.

In spite of the mid-album lull, it ends as well as it began with ‘Chronos’ steering back towards more familiar territory and ‘The Colour Of Leaving’ rounding the album out with the weight of a broken heart. Bringing the  concepts of time, death and mourning to a close with another great spoken word part and the background crow call, the opening and closing of the album meet. Just like the concepts contained within. Pretty heavy huh?

Those who didn’t enjoy Machine Head trying to play several eras of their career all at once on their Catharsis release earlier this year may struggle with this album as well. Those who like to see a band tinkering and experimenting within their signature style should warm to this release.

  1. Wishing Wells
  2. Prey
  3. Absolute Power
  4. Cemetery Bloom
  5. The Void
  6. I Hope You Rot
  7. Shadow Boxing
  8. In Blood
  9. Chronos
  10. The Colour Of Leaving