Review || Parkway Drive - "Darker Still"


Australian metalcore behemoths Parkway Drive return with their seventh studio album, "Darker Still", released on September 9th 2022. The album comes a good 4 years after the acclaimed "Reverence" which established them as the leaders of their scene. To celebrate the release, the band held a big listening party in Berlin a couple of days prior to street date, where they also held a Q&A with fans.

The time that preceded this record wasn't the best for the band. The pandemic forced them to postpone their Viva The Underdogs European tours multiple times, which we can all understand was an incredibly difficult situation for all touring artists, and when they announced their north American run earlier this year, fans were saddened to see it cancelled after a few short months. PWD justified this decision in a statement underlying their need to take some time for themselves, followed by an announcement that the band would be taking a break to focus on their mental health. As expected, this sparked a discussion about the future of the band, with rumors about an impending breakup becoming more and more prominent. Luckily this wasn't the case and the Australians spent the summer of 2022 releasing singles and promoting "Darker Still", their most stimulating work to date.

In the recent releases, Parkway Drive seems to have found the sound that suits them most and has become their trademark. Evolving from the pure metalcore that helped them rise to fame (which many elitist old-school fans like myself still miss terribly but that's a story for another time), their sound expanded into a different realm where it remains quite heavy but it's still accessible to wider audiences. They have introduced the bigger singalongs, where the lead guitar usually sets a memorable tone, the occasional heavy breakdown, lots of groove to get people at the shows moving... You get the idea. To that, we should also add the versatility that frontman Winston McCall has been successfully exploring. 

"Darker Still" consists of 11 tracks. From the first spin it becomes apparent that the majority of the songs, in typical PWD fashion, are designed to be performed live at some point and get fans singing in pure bliss at the top of their lungs; I can hear in my head (without having checked the setlist of their current tour) "Ground Zero" 's intro echoing the chants of the crowd, I can feel the ground shaking from the wall of death when the "let me the fuck out" on "Glitch", much like the breakdown in "Soul Bleach", drops, I can make a mental picture of a choir and a string ensemble joining them on stage like they did at Summer Breeze in 2019 -and I would kill to hear the crowd trying to pull long synchronized whistles on the intro of the title track. Speaking of "Darker Still" (and "If A God Can Bleed" for that matter), I find really fascinating how Winston has adopted a Till Lindemann-esque (or Snowy Shaw-esque, depending on where you come from) mannerism in his intense cleaner singing parts in the recent years; it feels like transferring all the action into his lower register, which I'm quite certain his voice type doesn't really support, is sometimes pushing its limits. Despite not being a baritone (nor a trained singer to my knowledge) however, McCall has found a loophole into going further down into his register, by switching from breathy to more gritty tones, from singing to a rhythmic speaking pattern, until he transitions into a low growl to imitate/compensate for the very low notes he's lacking.

Overall, "Darker Still" is a Parkway Drive album through and through. It's exactly what you'd expect to hear at this point in their career and arguably worthy of the status they have attained, adding one more milestone in their legacy.


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