Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: Parkway Drive - Atlas

Band: Parkway Drive
Album: Atlas
Year: 2012
Country: Australia
Genre: Metalcore

I have to say Atlas is one album I was really excited before. Parkway Drive stand out to me as one of the better bands in this tired genre and both Horizons and Deep Blue continue to get repeated listens on my iPod to this day. On Atlas the band seem to created a hybrid taking the melody of Horizons and the brute force of Deep Blue and it satisfies my ever expectation.

Firstly there are riffs here, yes actual riffs! They are all catchy, some more so than others and some more martial than others. The band also shows a little of their experimental side as they try writing newer and more interesting guitar parts into songs like in Wild Eyes. Sure there is some chugging going on but where other bands use it as the forefront of their guitar attack Parkway Drive give them a smaller role. I especially enjoy how from one song to the next the atmosphere evoked from the guitars both in tone and heaviness can change yet they can both exist on the same album without feeling out of place. In fact it feels more so like musically the album is telling a story with ups and downs.

Winston McCall tears it up again on Atlas. It seems his harsh vocals became even more punishing on Deep Blue, if not more angry. He has maintained that angry shout but this time it also seems to have a little sadness to it as well. One of my favorite things about his and his vocal parts is that clean vocals are used VERY sparingly. Where as so many bands are prone to the good cop bad cop deal where they scream the verse and sing a chorus, McCall screams both and will occasionally have little spoken parts here and there.

If I have one complaint or constructive criticism its this: give Jia O'Connor a larger role in the bigger picture. I honestly can't really make out whether or not he is contributing to their sound or not. It's that unfortunate bassists curse, forever cast into the background by most bands! I actually prefer to hear what they have to offer though. Ben Gordon's drumming is very active on Atlas and I have always enjoyed it. He seems to take a more metal approach to drumming with his blasts and fast paced snare hits like you would hear on a lot of melodic death albums. Yet at times there is a simplicity in his drumming where he doesn't do anything fancy and it works perfectly.

I would put Atlas somewhere in between Deep Blue and Horizons as far as how I gauge its quality. Putting aside the bass issues the album for me really stands out as one of the better releases of the year. McCall's lyrics are meaningful and even emotional without being whiny which is something I have admired about his style. The music mostly eschews the trappings and failings of most metalcore. In fact the violins in the title track and the added vocals in The River show that the band is willing to experiment on some level and progress. I know Atlas will definitely be among my top 10 of 2012.

Score: 9.5/10
Standout Tracks: The River, Atlas, Dark Days

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