Parkway Drive – ‘Reverence’ (Album Review)
Parkway Drive fans are incredibly passionate – and Reverence is set to spark off a civil war. Over on YouTube, this album’s advance singles repeatedly met with heated and mixed reactions. For some, each new track is a solid gold winner, while others have been quick to play the “sellout” and “dad rock” cards.
Neither accusation can be levelled at Reverence opener Wishing Wells. It’s fucking ferocious, vocalist Winston McCall drawing on the none-more-metal spirit of Phil Anselmo during the intro before tearing the rest of the track a new one. Lyrically, Wishing Wells directly addresses grief and loss – core themes returned to throughout Reverence.
Prey, on the other hand, sounds like another band entirely. Milking a 6/8 time signature for all it’s worth, Parkway Drive suddenly sound like Marilyn Manson messing around with a power metal sea shanty. It sounds like a joke – and if you try to take it seriously, Prey just becomes awkward.
By the fifty second mark, it becomes unlistenable – although perseverance is at least partially rewarded by a half-decent chorus hook and a sick beatdown section much later on. Next up, Absolute Power at least starts off with a shitload of promise, digging into a spiralling riff before creepy-awkward vocals ruin it all. Then comes a terrible pre-chorus and cringe-inducing Rage Against The Machine impression.
The chorus, on the other hand, has all the makings of an instant classic – but for whatever reason, Winston McCall, a beyond-formidable vocalist who could easily have nailed that section in his own way, sounds like he’s trying to sound like Zack de la Rocha. Given the latter’s post-Rage lack of on-record activity, perhaps this is an attempt at righteously resurrecting an iconic yet reclusive voice – but the truth is, it just sounds bad.
With two tracks in a row now mentally tagged as unpalatable, if I weren’t reviewing this album I would’ve either given up and gone to listen to Marilyn Manson and Rage Against The Machine, or skipped through the rest of Reverence to see if it manages to get any better. Cemetery Bloom repeats its predecessors’ performance almost instantly, as generic pulsing synths herald either an awe-inspiring epic, or more awkwardness. Since I’m being harsh enough here, I won’t even go into the rest of that track.
In comparison to Cemetery Bloom, fifth song The Void feels great – at least at first. Its opening riff may be stock, but at least it has balls. I honestly wish I could avoid saying that it doesn’t last, but it doesn’t. The Void lacks conviction, energy, passion and commitment, and not even its awesome video can hide such a glaring misstep.
Beyond the halfway mark, Reverence consistently fails to get any better. I Hope You Rot sounds like an Iron Maiden cover band who just discovered metalcore; Shadow Boxing contains pub-quality singing, painfully out of tune; and In Blood is a good if generic song spoilt by vocals that waver unpredictably between top-drawer and awful.
Like so much of Reverence, the creative decisions being made here make no sense whatsoever. No, Parkway Drive should not be expected to repeat themselves over and over again. Yes, they should be free to change their sound however they see fit – and the shit PWD went through during the making of this album was absolutely horrific. But still, the fact remains that they can do light years better than this.
Reverence throws a lot of shit at the wall, and none of it sticks bar the single track – Wishing Wells – that absolutely cannot be described in scatological terms. Chronos sounds like a band running out of steam, and The Colour Of Leaving rips off Stone Sour amid more bad singing. Overall, in hindsight Reverence looks like what it is.
One face-shattering single, and nine other songs that will lead to more comment-war trouble than they’re worth.
LTK RATING: 50%
Reverence drops May 4, and can be pre-ordered through iTunes.