Parkway Drive is a metalcore band hailing from Australia. The band is back with their sophomore release, Horizons, and ready to make an even bigger splash following its successful turn on Warped Tour.
Australia isn't known for their metal (or related genres) exports, Parkway Drive is doing their part to give the scene a kick-start. The only other band from the heavier end of the spectrum to make it big outside of Australia that I can think of is AC/DC and they aren't metal.
Anyway, Horizons is a strong album that is a step up from 2006's Killing with a Smile, but doesn't really cover any new ground. Fortunately, what ground it does cover is explored successfully and confidently. It is sure to get the pit churning as well.
For those of you who haven't heard of Parkway Drive, their unassuming name disguises a band that is chock full of blast beats, heavy breakdowns, and melodic twin guitars, all led by some lung destroying guttural screams.
In the past I have made it a point to comment on names that I thought were poor or odd, Parkway Drive is one that I think may do the band something of a disservice. I have not real problem with it, other than when I hear "Parkway Drive" fierce metalcore is not what comes to mind. Credit to the band for breaking down band name perceptions. Let this be a lesson to not judge a band by their name.
Horizons, like the band's debut CD, was produced by Adam Dutkiewicz, axe-man for metalcore leaders Killswitch Engage. Knowing that, you can hear some Killswitch in this band's sound. Of course, it is hard to be an up and coming metalcore act and not be compared to the leaders of the genre.
Now, it is not so much the music itself that sounds like Killswitch, but the great production values. This album is crisp, clear and very heavy. There is a nice balance between the instruments that is something to be applauded.
The album kicks off with the light instrumental intro called simply "Begin." Lasting less than a minute, this does not prepare you for when "The Siren's Song" kicks in full gear with lightning fast arpeggios leading into the full frontal assault of vocalist Winston McCall. The song is a perfect example of what the band is all about with plenty of speedy melodic guitars, purely growled vocals, and breakdowns that will have the most timid of concert goers ready to jump in the pit.
This transitions into the fast "Feed them to the Pigs," a song that features some of my favorite breakdowns on the disk.
Now, to be certain, Parkway Drive doesn't reach the creative heights that Killswitch Engage, Unearth, or As I Lay Dying has reached. However, this is a young band and it is still developing its voice. So far that voice does not include any clean singing, which is a good thing that helps differentiate it from the pack.
The music is really catchy, the melodies and hooks will draw you in. If nothing else, Parkway Drive is a strong export from a land not known for their metal scene. Perhaps this could be the first wave of new heavy music from Down Under. Think about it, a whole new world of heavy music just waiting to make a worldwide impact. That may be thinking a bit big, but all it takes is one band to have some success to open up a new scene and Parkway Drive could prove to be the spark.
The music contained within the compact 38 minutes of Horizons is free of any serious filler. Not every song is a winner; songs like "Five Months" and "Idols and Anchors" have some good moments, but aren't up to the likes of "Carrion," "Boneyards," and "Dead Man's Chest," the latter which is highlighted by some great blood-curdling screams. All of the tracks feature solid work from guitarists Luke Kilpatrick and Jeff Ling, plus solid bass from Jia O'Connor, and plenty of plast beats from Ben Gordon on the kit.
Bottomline. Neither original nor unoriginal, Parkway Drive is a band that has the skills to be a solid middle- to upper-tier metalcore act. With solid production value, decent songwriting, and the ability to turn a good breakdown Parkway Drive have crafted a very listenable, if not completely memorable album. If you are looking for something fresh to sink your hooks into, this could fit the bill.