LP Review; Parkway Drive: “Reverence”

“Wishing Wells” starts with the allusion of one standing out in nature. To further, one hears the rustling of leaves as gusts of wind rise and fall in the distance. This remains as the guitarist enters to give the audience the first melodic idea of the album. This motive is simple, for it revolves in a step-wise motion, which keeps the musical idea linear. This comes to a small pause before the vocalist enters with a spoken monologue. This gives off a macabre vibe because the vocalist speaks in the lower part of his speaking voice with a slight mumble undertone to it. This will help to set up the entire aura of the selection before all of the instrumentation joins the mix. As he grows through this small story for the audience, he adds slight pauses with aggressive spouts of breathing that adds to the overall vibe that the band is setting. After another bigger pause, the vocalist switches immediately to his aggressive, characteristic vocals to sound the words “until I’m done” over and over again as the full instrumental ensemble joins the party. When the instrumentals enter, they build off their basic motive that was set at the beginning before the band spins into the first verse of the track. When the first verse is present, the percussion section switches to become the subdivided pulse of the work with slight emphasis here and there. This helps to forward the momentum of the piece as well as establish the progressive groove of the work. Throughout the first verse, the band switches through different realms of texture, for they seem to allow the vocals more limelight in some sections and more of an in-unison feel in other sections. They are able to achieve this through the adding and subtracting of instrumentation, which gives the audience a nice sense of musical dimension. As the rest of the song sounds, it can be said that the build of the track remains static from the first verse to the end. This was a smart first selection for the album, for it gives the audience a sense of the vibe this album will be utilizing throughout each track. Additionally, this song holds some aspects of the characteristic sound fans have come to know and love, which will grasp their attention quickly, and make them want to continue listening.

“Prey” starts with a slowly growing semi-tone that is barely audible at the beginning of the work. This evolves quickly to break off into a guitar motive that is slightly quicker than the previous track. This motive is catchy upon the first hearing, for it revolves around a slight skip with some step-wise motion to marry all the notes nicely together. Soon after this is established in the ears of the listeners, the percussionist joins in to add stability to the overall selection. The percussion section primarily focuses on holding the pulse of the work firm; however, there are moments where the percussionist provides accents to certain areas within a measure set. When the vocalist enters, his voice resonates with a mixed voice; meaning, he isn’t quite using a spoken-word technique, but he also isn’t screaming (or using his characteristic vocal type). This helps to reestablish the “creepy” mood set in the first work. When the vocalist enters, the instrumentation drops slightly to allow the audience to focus on the vocal line. As the first verse grows to slowly morph into the chorus of the work, the instrumental section begins to grow. They are able to do so by adding embellishments to the motives they are already providing as well as making a bigger deal of when they interject the musical phrase. The chorus of the work allows the instrumental section to drop in swinging as the band spins into a full-fledged musical moment with all parties involved. This gives the audience some memorable material to attach to; also, this section provides a nice juxtaposition compared to the clustered feel of the firsts of the work. As the band begins to near the end of the work, the percussion section leads the listeners to a spoken word section that features a small guitar motive that spins into an in-unison string moment. All of these musical ideas begin to blend together as the band leads the audience up to the vocalist screaming “you better pray” before moving to the first instance of a metal breakdown on the album. The breakdown is short-lived before the band moves back to the chorus to end the work.

“Absolute Power” starts with a held tone by the string section with slight bends in the timbre here and there. The texture of this fluctuates before the bass enters with a melodic idea that sits low in its range. The melodic idea that the bass sets soon becomes the foundation of musical content for the work. The vocalist enters in soon after the instrumental section extrapolates on this beginning motive. Like the previous selection, the vocalist enters with this ornate singing style, which may begin to sound either odd or familiar to the audience. When the vocals begin, the instrumentation drops; however, that small bass motive remains consistent, for it acts as the driving force of the piece- keeping everything leaning forward. As the band progresses forward, they add major instances of contrast, for they’ll keep most of the melodic content static; then, out of nowhere, the instrumental section will add in to emphasize a single moment of the melodic idea being voiced. As the band moves to the chorus of the work, it is heard that they toy with slight rhythmic complexity by providing some musical ideas slightly off-kilter, compared to the other shining moments. A nice moment that the band provides throughout this track is a heavier hitting chorus, for it gives the audience a moment of that characteristic sound that the band has provided on previous releases; however, the band moves back to the newer approach in the second verse. Near the end of the work, the band moves to a major instrumental interlude that is driven by a guitar solo that uses techniques that stretch the tones, giving it a spread effect. This transitions the audience to a vocal line sung almost in isolation, as the reoccurring bass motive drives underneath it. This eventually takes the audience to a newer melodic idea that focuses on heavier emphasis of the beat. This new section is approached nicely and ends the work in a strong way, but it feels distant from the rest of the track.

 “Cemetery Bloom” starts with another slowly growing chord tone that builds in dynamics as the beginning of the track evolves. As the dynamic of this tone continues to grow, the band provides the imagery of a heartbeat through an opposing tone that sounds as if it were one’s pulse: only resonating here and there. This pulse sound became more regular as the selection furthers. The vocalist soon enters with another story for the audience. He delivered this message through his spoken word technique with a gospel choir chiming in saying “all hail” ever so often. As he took his audience through his story, the instrumental section used that established chordal structure to give their audience a grand rise and fall through their dynamic influx. This was enhanced by the ornamentation of the pulse here and there to add a slight sparkle to the instrumental line. Throughout the work, there are moments where different instrumental timbres sound, but for the most part, the instrumentation remains static until the end, where the percussionist enters to provide heavy hits on the strong beats of the musical phrase. As this song progresses forward, it can be said that this track is used to drive home the conceptional idea of the album, rather than giving the audience more musical content.

“The Void” starts with an instrumental interlude from the very first beat of the work. This instrumental interlude is driven by a progressive string motive that has the feel as if it is revolving in a circle as the percussion section establishes and enforces the groove of the work. This instrumental interlude remains strong until the first vocals of the track enter. When the vocals enter, the instrumentals remain almost at the same intensity, which is different than the previous tracks; however, the vocalist is again using his mixed vocal type, which gives the audience a mixture of tone colors to attach to throughout the beginning of the selection. The instrumental content is rather simple until the band begins to transition into the chorus of the work, for when the band arrives at the chorus of the song, the instrumentals drop to give the audience a larger than life sound. This contrasts the verses to a tee, and it gives the audience a moment with catchy material that’ll make them want more. As the band moves towards the end of the selection, they play with silence to add relief to the musical tension that they provide throughout the track. These moments lead to a huge instrumental feature that allows a guitar solo to take the forefront. This remains for some time, allowing the band to toy with different rhythms and even groove centers (them switching to a slight half time groove for fun). This eventually takes the audience back to the chorus, which will conclude the work.

“I Hope You Rot” starts with vocals from the first second of the work. The vocals that sound come across as if the vocalist is aggressively whispering (if that is even a thing). Underneath this, the string section is providing a small melodic line that will reappear within the work at some point. The percussion section enters in after some time with a pumping melodic figure. This soon takes the forefront and even gets a moment of isolation to itself, for it acts as transition material into the first verse of the piece. The first verse is driven by this intense musical motive that is enhanced by the heavier attacks within the instrumental section. This gives the audience a more aggressive moment in time within the album, which is a nice shift from the previous selections. When the vocalist reenters, the instrumentation drops in texture here and there to enhance certain moments of the vocal line. This provides a nice amount of symmetry throughout the track, for it has the audience teetering back and forth between big and small. Before moving to the chorus of the work, the band places an immediate, out of nowhere, grand pause that allows the instrumental section to crash back into elaborate instrumentals for the chorus. The groove of the work remains rather consistent, which works well for this track because it helps to keep the track pushing forward, and the groove sits right in the sweet spot for metal music, so it gives the band a lot of room to ornament on their elaborate instrumental moments. The second first is just as the first, and it transitions just as nice back to the intense chorus of the work. As the band begins to near the end of the work, they spin into an instrumental breakdown that is approached by the vocalist cheering the title of the track. This breakdown doesn’t last long until the band is back to the memorable chorus, which will take the audience to the end, or what they thought would be the end. From this fake ending, the band gives the audience another small vocal moment before ending the track with a small instrumental interlude that pulls from the beginning string motive. Seeming as this has been one of the heavier tracks up until this point, this will likely be a favorite from the album.

“Shadow Boxing” starts with another string motive that resonates in the lower part of the instrument’s range. This gives this track a softer mood to begin with, for the motive provides the audience with a gentle rise and fall from the beginning, which gives them a nice moment of solitude. Right before the vocalist enters, a piano timbre joins the party to provide a canonic effect with the same musical idea as the strings, while displacing the varied rhythm in harmony with them. When the vocals enter, it can be heard that the vocalist is clean singing, which is completely uncharacteristic for the album and the artist- for that matter. This gives the audience a musical breather for a moment as the band gives the listeners a nicely shaped musical moment. As the vocalist takes the listeners through the first verse, the balance of the song is remarkable. The instrumentals remain almost at the same volume as they enhance the simple vocal line that just glistens over top. As the end of the first verse starts to show, the percussionist enters to provide more rhythmic stability before the vocalist spins into his mixed vocal type. When he does so, he begins to vocalize at a rapid rate, giving the audience lyrical content almost in a rapped style. This mixes various musical genres all at once, for this will eventually grow to into an embellished instrumental motive that is led by screamed vocals. This shows the audience that Parkway Drive is much more than a metal band, and it makes them want to see more of what they can do, musically speaking. Throughout the track, the band utilizes standard techniques that they’ve utilized throughout the album such as musical silence, juxtaposing feels, and the adding and subtracting of texture. Before the end of the work is arrived at, the band provides a somber moment that is led by a sweet melody in a positive timbre before the band completely flies off the handle into an over the top metal sounding run of the chorus content, which will eventually end the work. This is a foreseen favorite of the album because of its vast diversity.

“In Blood” starts with a repetitive motive that is first heard at a distance. This motive resonates with a slight back and forth feel with a break of silence to fill out the end. After this has taken the time to build, an electronic tone forms and swells underneath it to help pack a greater punch as more of the instrumental section joins the mix. Next, the percussion section enters to add rhythmic variations here and there as the percussionist provides heavy hits on and off the beats within each musical phrase. This helps the beginning section transition nicely into the first cohesive instrumental interlude of the work, for this off-kilter groove settles and becomes the foundation of the new musical idea. This interlude resonates well with the audience for a little while before the instrumentation drops when the aggressive vocals enter. As the vocals sound, the percussionist provides the most instrumental, rhythmic support until the band arrives at the chorus of the work. When the band falls into the chorus of the work, it is heard that they are providing intricate instrumentals that sound similar to those off previous releases made by the band. Additionally, the band adds more instances of musical silence to off-set certain musical phrases, which adds new dimension to the track as a whole. In the middle of the piece, the band moves back to that initial percussion motive mixed with vocals. This slowly evolves into an over the top metal breakdown, which is exactly what the audience has been waiting for throughout the entire album. This breakdown holds true to the old style of Parkway Drive while keeping their heavy approach current and connectible to the previous tracks. This is a foreseen favorite from the album because of its similarities to past releases.

“Chronos” starts with a string motive that is heard at a distance. When this motive is sounding, there is another small string motive going on; however, the two come across as if they work together, for the second only enhances the first. The vocalist enters in soon after this is well established. When he enters, he utilizes his aggressive vocal type, which is enhanced by the instrumentation that remains firm with slight embellishments here and there. Right before the band lands on the chorus of the work, the vocalist quickly switches to his mixed voice to vocalize a mumble message before falling into the chorus. The chorus of the work sounds similar to the material presented in the previous verse. This isn’t a bad thing; however, it doesn’t truly stick out as the chorus of the work, which may make the work feel as if it is drug out, even if the material isn’t bad. The second verse and second run of the chorus match the first; however, following this chorus, the band spins into an elaborate guitar solo. This solo leads the band into an instrumental feature that ends with a simmering chord that remains as a small motive sounds overtop it. This interlude section focuses on the material that was presented at the beginning of the work. Faint vocals are heard in the background as the instrumental ensemble soon increases the tempo to spin back into the more progressive instrumental material that has been voiced. The instrumental ensemble then expands on these stated motives in their drug out instrumental feature until the work ends.

“The Colour of Leaving” starts with another pastoral scene that starts with the sound of roaring wind. This shifting of wind is accompanied by a simple string passage that follows a small step-wise motion. The vocalist enters soon after the mood of the piece is established. When he enters, it is heard that he is, again, utilizing his clean vocal type to give the audience a somber and smooth melodic line. The instrumentals remain static throughout the first verse, which allows the vocal line to shine with a rich texture falling underneath it. As the first verse progresses, the band includes various new tone colors to the same rhythm to enhance and color the overall picture being painted throughout the selection. As the band makes its way through the song, a slight pulse is established and consistently sounded, so that the piece remains light but also timely as rhythmic variations begin to interject here and there. Right before the end of the piece, the instrumentation drops out completely as the vocalist moves to his spoken word technique. In this moment, it feels as if the vocalist is having a passionate conversation with the audience as his message is the only thing being vocalized. The track concludes with spoken vocals that seem to shake before the vocalist sounds as if he is walking away leaving nothing but the pastoral scene to resonate. This was an interesting track to round out this album. I think it was both a good and a bad choice. It was a bad choice, for there wasn’t a lot of music presented on it, so it didn’t leave the audience wanting more; however, it was a good choice, for it rounded out the band’s story, conceptionally speaking.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I am giving this album such a score for a few reasons. The first reason I landed on this score is that the musical content by itself (instrumentals) are solid and quite enjoyable to listen to. The band gives the audience innovative riffs that sound fresh throughout the album. The second reason I landed on this score is because this album lacks the Parkway Drive punch that the band has produced several times in the past. This album felt more like “I’m a part of the team” rather than “I want to be the team leader”, and Parkway Drive has the ability to be one of the leading artists in the metal scene. Overall, this album isn’t bad by any means, but I was expecting a lot more. So, if you’re looking for a new, average metal album to listen to: this is it!

*”Reverence” was released on May 4, 2018 through Epitaph Records.

2 thoughts on “LP Review; Parkway Drive: “Reverence”

  1. The band’s sound is definitely changing. Their songs are more melodic than they once were. They try a few different things on this album and there are some great tracks. I agree it lacks a little bit of punch, but I think that is mostly due to the mix and production which is a little compressed for my liking. I agree with a 3.5/5 score. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for checking it out! The album falls closer to a Five Finger Death Punch album to be almost, which was a bit surprising on my first listen, but it still holds true to them at its core.

      Like

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