Album Of The Week: Parkway Drive's Reverence

The Aussie metal heroes take a bold stride forwards while converting grief into art on moving sixth album…

Album Of The Week: Parkway Drive's Reverence

Reverence could have turned out very differently. In the hands of another band, this album would, most likely, have contained 10 relentlessly crushing tracks with no let-up, no breath of fresh air to counteract the fury. Such was the devastation that Parkway Drive experienced between 2015’s Ire and the recording of this sixth full-length, you’d have forgiven them for taking such a route – straightforward as it may be.

This isn’t how Byron Bay’s finest spend their time on Reverence, however. Having taken half of 2017 off in order to pour every ounce of themselves into the music in guitarist Jeff Ling’s home studio, they’ve put each twist and turn (or, in this case, high and low) in place with a remarkable attention to detail. Parkway Drive’s story over the past three years – one filled with tragic deaths and emotional turmoil – unfolds with the same level of contemplation, too. And though there’s an overall sombre tone across its 40-odd minutes, this is a record that balances darkness with light in captivating fashion, reflecting the nature of how sorrow comes in waves, while also showcasing how the quintet have impressively built on their breakdown-after-breakdown foundations and ascended to a league in which they now sit alongside Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon.

We all know how it starts: the swirling, raging metal masterclass that is Wishing Wells, arriving with frontman Winston McCall’s startling confession that ‘The Devil and God have died inside me’. But then comes Prey’s soaring, Pirates Of The Caribbean-esque guitars and lyrics that almost invite tragedy (‘Attention, attention, welcome to the stage / Your new sacrifice, come sharpen your teeth’), followed by the prowling Absolute Power. But then the brooding Cemetery Bloom arrives, and it’s from here onwards that Reverence broadens its horizons.

I Hope You Rot’s whispering intro segues into Parkway on reliably commanding form – all towering guitars and thundering double bass drums – before Shadow Boxing hears Winston switch effortlessly from singing softly, to rapping, to unleashing his distinctive, vein-bursting roar. Chronos, meanwhile, culminates in a goosebump-inducing string segment which, handled without appropriate care, absolutely would not work. But with Parkway Drive’s magnifying glass hovering over each carefully crafted note, it serves not only as a gorgeous piece of music in its own right, but in the context of the album as a whole, too.

Reverence’s highlight comes in the form of its final moment, The Colour Of Leaving. The most touching song of Parkway Drive’s career – with the lyrics being written for late Architects guitarist Tom Searle, as well as Winston’s dog, Monty, who passed away in his arms – the album’s parting gift is both a moving tribute to those taken too soon, and one final overwhelming flood of catharsis. As Winston’s voice quivers over the lines, ‘So we live like we have lost / And we love like we are broken / And as the colour leaves the sky we’re left in reverence / Of the frailty of it all,’ you can’t imagine a more poignant note on which to end.

This album won’t be for everyone. If you didn’t dig Ire’s curveball moments, then Reverence might prove one step too far. But for those who do take the plunge and join Parkway Drive on this powerful, turbulent journey, they’ll also discover one of the most compelling metal albums of the year.

Words: Emily Carter
Photo: Andy Ford

Parkway Drive's Reverence is available now through Epitaph. Check it out below. The band return to the UK to play Download Festival in June. More info here.

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