There are two main reasons that Parkway Drive are able to maintain their spot at the top of the metalcore pile. The first is the fact that they have their own identity; they’re a wholly organic prospect without the need of gimmicks to get themselves noticed. The second may be related to the first, in that they have immense staying power. There are few other metalcore bands that make as consistently strong albums as they do, and the effect is incredibly noticeable. But on Ire, things are done a bit differently. It’s almost as if they realised that bands like Northlane and The Amity Affliction are breathing down their neck to take their Aussie metalcore throne. So they’ve let them.
Ire is, for the most part, a deliberate swerve from metalcore and into something far more experimental. Lead single Vice Grip may have ruffled some feathers when it was first revealed with its fusion of ’80s arena-rock and mid-’00s melo-death (“No breakdowns? How dare they!”) but it makes a lot more sense when viewed with the full canvas. It’s Parkway Drive unleashing a new side to themselves while still maintaining the feeling of impending doom that they’ve kept a constant factor. Crushed is a good reference point, kicking off with haunting Gregorian chants before Winston McCall breaks into almost pseudo-Stray From The Path-style rapping and exploding into an absolute steamroller of a chorus. All the heaviness of Parkway Drive is still there, but they’ve not boxed themselves in this time, attaching loose ends of their sound to any new influences they can find.
It often works as well. Trad-metal riffing takes up the bulk of the album, but Ire is at its most interesting when it strays into hitherto uninhabited territory. Crushed is like nothing they’ve ever attempted before, while Writings On The Wall‘s militaristic drumbeat and menacing rasps could be on the next King 810 album, and closer A Deathless Song comes as close to a power ballad as they’ve ever come, with its soaring gang chorus, huge solo and swathes of strings and gently plucked flamenco guitar. It’s by a considerable distance the best song on the album, and shows that, for Parkway Drive now, nothing is off limits. There are occasional throwbacks to their past sound – the mosh call in Bottom Feeder is the best one you will hear all year – but these are few and far between. For the most part, Ire is Parkway Drive throwing caution into the wind and coming out with an absolute blinder.
Saying that, there are a couple of moments where their newfound experimentalism fails to catch on. Dying To Believe feels like too much is going on at once and is incredibly messy as a result, while The Sound Of Violence just has something missing that stops it from really gelling. For a change as drastic as this though, such a small amount of filler can’t really be complained at, especially seeing as the rest of the album is so strong. It’s just yet more evidence of how Parkway Drive are one of the most consistently great bands in metal – even when dealing in the areas they’ve never even set foot in, they still manage to come out swinging.
For fans of: While She Sleeps, Slipknot, Stray From The Path
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Ire’ by Parkway Drive is released on 25th September on Epitaph Records.