It's funny how nostalgia spent a long time being one of the vital components in keeping metal alive, and now it's nostalgia itself that is seemingly standing in the way of the scene moving forward. In a world where we have arguably only seen two bands in Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold rise to global superstar status in the last two decades, it's becoming increasingly important for metal to find a band that can bridge the gap between metal fans who tuned out post Pantera, and younger fans whose lust for gutteral vocals and breakdowns often takes precedence over craft, structure, and prowess.
If someone told you back in 2010 that the band that seemingly have metal superstardom waiting in the wings for them in the present day would be Parkway Drive, you'd have reason to be fairly sceptical. The quintet spent the late 2000's and early 10's becoming one of the premier metalcore bands on the planet and unquestionably one of this generations best live acts. The Australians previous record Ire suggested that the days of skull crushing metalcore were about to be left behind in the wake of something broader; new album Reverence is the arrival of Parkway Drive's all out assault on world domination.
Truth be told, the five-piece could have easily stuck to their bruising roots and lived out the rest of their careers headlining academy sized venues across the globe and go down as one of the 2000's truly great sub-genre bands, but Reverence is solid proof that this band have insatiable ambition and a thick set of guts to boot. From the addition of more spoken word vocals from frontman Winston McCall to the step into a more emphatic, collective metal sound; Reverence is a none stop smash hits of Parkway Drive pushing themselves to evolve.
For the most part the transition is pulled off with almost frightening ease, both 'Prey' and 'The Void' are natural successors to Ire's 'Vice Grip', grooving metal numbers that culminate with raging, floor filling choruses that add an anthemic touch to Parkway Drive that you would never have expected to be there when listening to 2010's Deep Blue. But the true story being told in Reverence is the bands ability to take their sound, and mould it into a product that can take them to where they want to be, while not leaving anyone behind; a task that many bands try and fail at 12-15 years into their career.
Admittedly this direction can't be for everyone (nothing ever is), and if you're going into Reverence hoping to come out of it the other side missing a few chunks of flesh similar to the bands older material such as 'Boneyards' 'Dark Days' or 'Karma' then you'll be disappointed here. But what does exist inside the record is so much more than circle pit openers, there's a charm and ingenuity to Parkway's bold step into a straight metal sound that makes Reverence a metal project unlike any you'll have heard in some time.
Lead guitarist Jeff Ling has become the star of the band and puts in an at times spell binding performance here, the exquisite clean riffs on tracks like 'I Hope You Rot' and 'Shadow Boxing' gives them the bands unforgettable carnivorous tone, while Winston delivers his patented throat tearing vocals, this is the biggest Parkway Drive have ever sounded. At no point should this be considered a sell-out record either, the band never lose sight of their heavy nature, there's breakdowns a plenty, the drumming of Ben Gordon is still unforgiving, it's just all tightly knit together within wall shaking, glass shattering blasts of classic metal structures.
'Cemetery Bloom' and 'The Colour Of Leaving' are where the Aussies do start to become a little too ballsy, with both tracks being performed almost entirely with spoken word vocals and while lyrically progressive their placement here feels disjointed and straight up odd. The same cannot be said though for 'Chronos' clocking in at over 6 minutes; it's the longest song the band have ever put to record, it's yet another jewel in the Aussies crown, perfectly paced, massive solo's - it's metal turned up to 10 for 6 minutes.
As the list of bands able to headline Download continues to shrink, Parkway Drive have been looked at as one of the bands possibly able to make the jump to bill topping status for a while now. Reverence is the Aussies leap into domination, and they land with shattering force, it's heavy with a sense of grandeur that we've never seen from the band before, giving them a crossover appeal which has every chance of manifesting itself into a following capable of selling out arenas. If Parkway Drive have been looking for the album which can take them to the next level, Reverence is it.