The world of metal has always held its forefathers up with great respect. Bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica and Slayer are royalty, in contrast to punk which treats earlier bands with cynicism and puts emphasis on progression. Parkway Drive have always been successful at marrying both ideals successfully, splicing the grandeur of 80s metal with the anger and bite of contemporary influences, and they are internationally adored as a result.
The fact that ‘Ire’ is their fifth full length in only 12 years is testament to their workrate, and the five Aussie lads are masters at bringing variety and creativity to their sound and adding flourishes to the more typical metalcore structures. That said, what you’re getting here is unmistakably Parkway Drive and if you’re familiar with their back catalogue you’re stylistically not going to see any big differences here.
As ‘Destroyer’ introduces the album you are quickly reminded of why this band are so strangely compelling. It’s quite simply epic metalcore performed with a confidence and conviction that is very attractive. Typically of the genre, it’s got this kind of theatrical aggression and let’s face it, it can be kind of corny. But the enormous throat-scraping roar of vocalist Winston McCall seems to inject adrenaline straight into the veins.
‘Dying To Believe’ ups the ante, with blastbeats and pulsing riffs which pound along together with such wonderful momentum. One of the band’s signature elements is their blockbusting breakdowns and one such specimen is present on this track as McCall rages“How do you sleep at night!?”
Parkway Drive have a great appreciation for the elements of metal, from whichever era, which make it so attractive. I love the upbeat, squealing and very 80s lead in ‘Vice Grip’ set alongside such furious yet positive vocals. They can certainly do angry too, as illustrated by ‘Crushed’ which rages against the destructive power of religion, with hostile chord progressions that just have this knack of striking your sweet spot.
Around the midpoint of the record some cracks do start to show. ‘Writings On The Wall’ opens with gentle strings and then breaks into this odd spoken word mess which is just too theatrical for its own good. I’ll let these guys get away with a lot, but I’m afraid they push it just too far here. They hide a few dud songs across the next few tracks which simply do not live up to their very high standards, with generic structures and none of the sledgehammer impact they love to deliver.
Things improve temporarily with the empowering ‘Dedicated’ which is a tribute to the band’s loyal fanbase, but the album ends on a bit of a damp squib with ‘A Deathless Song’ which just fizzles out with a bit of a gushy sentimental number rather just ending on a cracker which would be much more preferable.
After beginning so promisingly, ‘Ire’ ends up being a tale of two halves, and whilst this is disappointing I can still say hand on heart that I enjoyed listening to it. If you’re already well acquainted with these guys then get this as well because it will give you joy. For everyone else, go with ‘Horizons’ or ‘Deep Blue’ for prime Parkway cuts.
‘Ire’ by Parkway Drive is out now on Epitaph Records.
Words by Alex Phelan (@listen_to_alex)