Parkway Drive – “Deep Blue” LP Review

Review: Lana Harris

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  There are lots of surprises in the musical world. Who would’ve thought that Billy Ray Cyrus would still be making money, that Ozzy Osbourne would still be alive, or that Parkway Drive – who mix hardcore and metal styles into brutal barrages of songs – could have emerged from the womb of hippiedom, Byron Bay? But it happens, and the success of Parkway Drive has recently been confirmed with their third album Deep Blue acknowledged at the Australian Music Industry Awards with the honour of ‘best hard rock/ punk album’.

The award for the album is not one of the music world’s surprises. Deep Blue is a masterpiece of jack hammering ear assault.

Opening with a sludgy, short, rolling crescendo of sound with a vocal tag of ‘sufferrrring’ we’re slammed into this super heavy concept album. That opening track ‘Samsara’, can be literally translated to mean the eternal cycle of birth, suffering and death and is a fitting introduction for the theme of the album – the story of a man who wakes up, realises his life is a lie, and then sets out to find out what is really true in the world. From ‘Samsara’ we are taken to ‘Unrest’ where the man’s journey begins. “Rat race, nothing but a rat…what have I become?” The track’s lyrics as well as its rhythms reflect the unrest of the title. Narrated in the growling, screaming style of vocalist Winston McCall, Deep Blue has lyrics abstract enough to be poetry, specific enough for listeners to ‘get’ the song, and a universality in its themes of “what does it mean, where am I going?”

The whole album shows off McCall’s growl and the depth of Parkway Drive’s musical abilities. Within individual songs, the band both compresses and expands on a variety of sounds, using breaks, changes in tempo and short sections of soloing in creative ways which keep the songs from becoming uniform walls of sound. ‘Sleepwalker’ has hypnotic riff patterns broken up by dull, thudding breaks and energetic choruses. ‘Wreckage’ shows off shredding guitar work. Each song ends up being a small journey in itself.

‘Home is for the Heartless’ sees Parkway Drive float the ‘wooahhhh’ track. Group harmonies and extended vowels fill the chorus. The all-in backup vocal style usually seen in punk songs makes sense in light of the guest appearance by Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion guitarist) on the track, but McCall still puts in a stellar growling performance and Kilpatrick and Ling (guitars) cover the fret board in ways definitely not usually demonstrated in punk songs. The result is an intriguing mix that in the end reflects more of Parkway Drive than the guest contributor. ‘Leviathan I’ rips through with some incredible drumming by Ben Gordon that really drives the song and made it one of the stand out tracks.

Deep Blue is creative within tracks, yet coherent as a whole. There is a flow to the album, but individual tracks easily stand alone as unified pieces of incessant onslaught in themselves. Parkway Drive has delivered a quality album busting with meaning and power guitars.


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