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Courtesy of relentless touring behind their past three albums and truckloads of hard work – Byron Bay’s Parkway Drive have earned themselves a loyal and far-reaching fanbase. And, in an effort to break even more ground with album number four, the band took their brutal brand of local metal to LA and into the arms of Slayer and Hatebreed producer Matt Hyde.
It’s proven to be a masterstroke. From the moment frontman Winston McCall screams in Old Ghost/New Regrets – it’s on for young and old. Atlas is 40-odd minutes of polished, un-relenting heavy metal, even in the more majestic, toned-down moments like The River and the title track. If there has to be a weak point on this album, it’s these songs, even though they offer a bit of diversity.
Indeed, everything seems turned up a notch on Atlas, and the fury and dual speed guitar assaults – prominent in album highlight Swing and Snake Oil And Holy Water – are all ones you can see starting many a fight circle.
Several of the tracks have a key element which makes them not sound like just a stock-standard scream or sludge fest. The intro in lead single Dark Days is like a call to arms – while the “whoa’s” in Wild Eyes make the track sound like it was destined for being played in arenas.
The Slow Surrender has a slammin’ main riff and chorus, and the repetitive screams of “no comfoooorttt” in Sleight Of Hand are a headbanger’s delight. And album closer Blue And The Grey manages to changes direction several times whilst maintaining a truckload of attitude.
Like their counterparts the Hilltop Hoods, who showed why they are the local hip-hop kings with a superb new album earlier this year – Atlas is Parkway Drive’s ace up the sleeve when it comes to discussing who is Australia’s premier metal act. This album gives them that title and then some – and is also their calling card for making some serious waves internationally.