August Burns Red
The Ghost Inside
As I Lay Dying
2."Old Ghosts/New Regrets"
8."The Slow Surrender"
10."Sleight of Hand"
11."Snake Oil and Holy Water"
12."Blue and The Grey"
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Within the last few years I’ve stepped away from heavier music in general. Some could say I fell off, some could say I’m just a bitter old man. Whatever. It is what it is. However, in 2010 when I first started to fall off the grid, one band brought me back in with a release that blew me away. That band? Parkway Drive. The release? Deep Blue. Fast forward two years to the present day and I’m in the same boat I was then, paddling around aimlessly looking for some sort of musical rescue. I'm again bored with all of the newer metal and hardcore releases and extremely jaded. That is, I was, until those same Aussies that saved my head banging life a few years prior released a single from their upcoming release, Atlas. I listened to “Dark Days” about 87 times the first day the video hit the web. I was beside myself. Could this band really be doing it again? Could they be turning this bitter old man into a believer yet again? The answer my internet friends and foes, is yes.
Atlas starts off with the Medieval flavored intro “Sparks” which sets the stage for an onslaught of neck-breaking riffs and mind-shattering drum work. Once you hear Winston McCall belt out, “I’m the same bad news as you. You’re the same kind of fucked as me,” you know that you’re in for one hell of a musical ride that spans almost fifty minutes. Once “Sparks” abruptly ends, you’re expecting the following track “Old Ghosts/ New Regrets” to pick up right where it left off, but it doesn't. Instead, you immediately hear the classic Parkway Drive guitar tone and begin to embrace all that is metalcore in this “apocalyptic” year. “Old Ghosts/ New Regrets” really prepares you for everything this album offers, lyrically and musically.
Tracks four through six are by far the three best tracks on the album. Starting off this triple threat is “Wild Eyes.” Don’t get all up in arms about this statement, but “Wild Eyes” might be the greatest metalcore song ever written. With its Iron Maiden-like chants and methodically placed crunching guitar tones, it sure is a spine chiller. Next is the first single to be released off Atlas, “Dark Days.” This track starts off a tad sluggish but, holy shit, if you don’t think the last minute and a half is one of the sickest solo-to-breakdowns ever, then you can come to PA and fight me. Smash face. “The River” starts off as one of Parkway Drive’s fundamentally harmonious tracks but ends up being more than just that. You end up hearing some beautifully female-sung clean vocals which is not something you ordinarily hear on a Parkway Drive album.
“The Slow Surrender” threw me off at first. It’s really… well, weird initially, but then it opens up to a smooth-grooving track... then ends up getting, well, weird again! For whatever reason, the gents in Parkway Drive saw it fit to add some scratches into the mix. Yes, like a turntable scratch. Theoretically this sounds like a terrible decision but honestly, it works! This album is full of surprises and they don’t stop with the scratches. The album’s title track ends up offering a string orchestra! “Blue and the Grey” is the album closer and it’s for good measure they chose that track to do so, for it is the battle hymn that accompanies the intro track. Unremitting, vicious and melodic are just a few ways to describe the end to what is one hell of a musical journey.
I’m sure the Decoy “sharks” will attack this review and album like blood in the water but honestly, it doesn’t even matter. This is THE metalcore album of the year. Parkway Drive put themselves in a tier of modern heavy music that not many others are matching. It takes a lot for a band to stay consistent and still add a few extras in with each new album to stay fresh and maintain a following that is steadily growing each day. Let it be known that any other metalcore album or band you thought were at the top of your list before this are now bumped back at least one spot.