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Over the last 12 years, Byron Bay mosh lords Parkway Drive have blast-beat a path from the surf beaches of the NSW North Coast to the forefront of the international metalcore scene.
On fifth full-length Ire the band set their sights on something bigger, going all in on their artistic vision to create their most ambitious, adventurous and antagonistic record to date.
Parkway Drive are pissed off at the state of the world, and on the fittingly titled Ire they wear that anger upfront with riotous results.
The aural violence of Destroyer establishes a combustible aura, with guitarists Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick’s harmonised classic metal riffs clashing against a ferocious backdrop as vocalist Winston McCall implores humanity to step up and take take notice of the destructive force we’ve become.
Dying To Believe’s chaotic juxtaposition of death-metal rhythmic patterns in the verses and pit-call inciting half-time chorus hit like a napalm bomb, simmering with rage, simultaneously calling to mind Lamb of God, Slayer and Slipknot, it’s Parkway Drive in alter-beast mode and it is f**king exhilarating.
Ire is decidedly more metal than metal-core on the whole, and like most metal albums, it works best when absorbed as a whole, as such divisive singles Vice Grip and Crushed, make more sense when heard in context, with the Euro-metal leaning affirmation of Vice Grip playing counterpoint to the savage reality check of Crushed.
Despite not having a clean vocalist, Parkway Drive have always had a knack for penning a hook, and that trend continues on Ire with the chant-driven riff-fest Fractures and the (whisper it) nu-metal tinged stomp of Writings on The Wall, the latter of which integrates spoken-word vocals, piano and classical instrumentation with impactful results.
For all the bells and whistles on offer it’s what the band doesn’t do on Ire that pays biggest dividends, as despite the sonic chaos, everything feels in place, meaning individual elements such as Jeff Ling’s numerous sweeping licks and solos (he does something notable on every track) and Ben Gordon’s machine-like blasts are given an opportunity to show out without clashing with song structures.
Ling aside, McCall benefits most from this as he is given the space to convey the album’s poignant lyrical concepts with conviction and clarity. Whether delivering highs, crushing lows, chants or surprising melodic passages (A Deathless Song), McCall absolutely owns it, packing every bit of venom and Ire he can muster into each syllable of his most accomplished contribution yet.
Fittingly for an album of this magnitude, Parkway Drive save the best for last with the thunderous mosh-metal of Dedicated (equal parts ode to where they’ve been and steadfast defense of where they’re headed) and the expansive arena metal anthem in waiting A Deathless Song, closing things out in suitably epic fashion.
Ire is the biggest gamble of Parkway Drive’s career, and it’s difficult to see them ever returning to their more simplistic metalcore output. After repeated listens I don’t want them to even consider trying. This is the band that they were always destined to be.
Watch: Parkway Drive – Crushed