Parkway Drive

Atlas

01. Sparks
02. Old Ghosts/New Regrets
03. Dream Run
04. Wild Eyes
05. Dark Days
06. The River
07. Swing
08. The Slow Surrender
09. Atlas
10. Sleight Of Hand
11. Snake Oil & Holy Water
12. Blue & The Grey

[10/26/12]
[Epitaph Records]

Parkway Drive is one of the more successful metalcore bands out there. Their fan base is huge, as well as dedicated. They have brought just about everything to the table over the past three albums; huge ballads that beg to be shouted along to, heavy hitting metalcore songs with brutal breakdowns, and catchy songs with riffs that stay in your mind for a longer time than anyone would care to admit. However the main problem with this band is that over the past three albums, while they have incorporated all of those elements  and many more, they have yet to make a truly great album. Spread out over three releases, the most recent one Deep Blue being their best thus far, it is hard not to get the feeling that they had it in them to make a great album that combined all three elements successfully, but never did. So with their latest outing, have Parkway Drive continue to make the same mistake, or did they improve their formula to make a better album?

The answer is that Parkway Drive have finally created a well-rounded metalcore album. This is the first album of theirs where you don’t have to skip over the meandering songs to get to the good ones. You know why? Because they are actually enjoyable! From the album’s acoustic opener ‘Sparks’ to the epic closer ‘Blue & The Grey’ this album is chock full of great songs, many of which will become live staples for the band. Namely songs such as ‘Wild Eyes’, will be played live, with its pseudo-melodic-thrash guitar riff and powerful chorus. The best song from the record, however, is definitely ‘The Slow Surrender’, with an opening bass line that will lodge itself inside your brain for days. The entire song is going to make the audience want to chant and shout and sing along. There’s even a lead part right before the chorus that sounds reminiscent of Iron Maiden, which is a small added bonus.

There are also some things that were not present on previous PD albums that have made the band progress. One feature namely being the use of acoustic guitars throughout the record, which adds a very nice touch to already good songs. Another feature that really did the band justice is the female vocals on ‘The River’, which is sure to become a live staple for many years to come. If ‘Home Is For The Heartless’ off Deep Blue had an older, wiser sibling, it would be this song. Powerful vocals from frontman Winston combined with beautifully haunting female vocals makes this song a nice contrast from the rest of their “ballads”. However, what really differentiates this album from the band’s previous efforts is that Parkway Drive have finally stepped out of their comfort zone, and have proved that it works well. This ability to still be successful outside of their usual breakdown-oriented songs is something that may divide fans, but hopefully will reassure them that their favorite band still has a lot of juice left in them.

The one gripe that must be brought to light is that some of the songs start to sound vaguely similar to past works. Whether they did it accidentally or are recycling parts a la Haunted Shores and Dream Theater is neither here nor there, but at times you will think “Oh, this sounds like (insert song here)”. While not the biggest problem, it certainly detracts from how great this record could have been if they had abandoned all past riffs and thought of completely different ones. That gripe is saved, however, by the amazing production on this album. The instruments all sound like instruments, and the drums, notoriously sampled in the metalcore scene, sound natural and loud, which is a plus for any drummer out there. The vocals are perfectly mixed, and Winston’s roar is enough to jolt you if you aren’t paying attention.

Parkway Drive are a bunch of young dudes from Australia who love making the music they do and touring the world, meeting different people along the way. This is all evident in their ‘Home Is For The Heartless’ DVD, which is a recommended buy for any Parkway Drive fan. These five dudes have proved that if you step outside of your comfort zone and aren’t afraid to take a few risks, the payoff can be grand. If you haven’t seen them live, go and experience it yourself. If you haven’t found any of their music interesting, then pick this album up. If you love Parkway Drive and want their best offering yet, pick up Atlas, and enjoy the ride.

Parkway Drive – Atlas gets…

4/5

-SS