Holy fuck. Like Sergey Bubka in 1991 and his incredible year of breaking and re-breaking his own world records, the bar that was well and truly upped this year by While She Sleeps, Lamb Of God and Bring Me The Horizon, amongst others, has been raised yet again by Aussie moshers Parkway Drive and their fifth album, Ire (Resist/Epitaph). 2015 is proving the year of the big boys, and has seen belter of an album follow belter of an album. I don’t know what’s has been stirred into the metal waters this year, but bands are falling over themselves to release classic and defining moments.
While the main focus is still here in the now frontier, by opening the floodgates, as with the newest Trivium album, Parkway have allowed themselves to write a batch of great metal songs that reference classic rock, traditional metal, 90’s groove metal and metalcore while still sounding resolutely and proudly Parkway.
There’s no shame, or hiding things, either. From the outset, like Louis Van Gaal dropping trou. pointing to his nadgers and telling his Bayern Munich players not to take him on as had the biggest balls in the dressing room, Parkway let the new elements in their sound stand proud. Apparently spurred on by the realization that they’d painted themselves into a corner, with vocalist Winston McCall bravely stating “When you’re playing the same style of riff, the same drumming, the same vocals and same breakdowns for ten years, what point is there in people listening to your new record or even recording one if it sounds the exact same as the last one?”, there is no doubt things are different, superior and enhanced, this time around when ‘Destroyer’ kicks things off. A building lead guitar motif, cavernous drums and gang vocals build before a classic metal riff that would have graced The Last In Line (Vertigo) swaggers in, bold as brass.
Make no mistake, Ire is no 80’s worship, it just allows the elements that had previously restricted their song-writing to flourish. All through there is chunk and menace, with groove – heavy guitars are still the dominant feature. McCall does an excellent job in maintaining intensity; it would have been easy to have succumbed to peppering the album with by-numbers clean vocals, instead he mixes up death metal growls with ‘core gravel-throated shouts, to some melodic yet howled moments, and when his throat shatters, spitting “Twelve years I’ve fought for this! Twelve years my heart still beats for the ones who stood beside me!” in ‘Dedicated’ you can taste the validation. Ire is the album Parkway always had in them, but were too pre-occupied to write before.
From the massive Dio testicles of the opener, to the down-tuned stomp of second track ‘Dying To Believe’ we move onto ‘Vice Grip’, which is simply huge – Parkway refereeing a no DQ bout between In Flames and AC/DC. But there is no let up whatsoever as ‘Crushed’ chins the masses, being the best 90’s Roadrunner song since, well, 90’s Roadrunner, as if some pre-Roadrunner United amalgam had brought Max Cavalera, Dino Cazares and Robb Flynn together in 1995 to produce one of the hugest grooves this side of the Mariana Trench.
Elsewhere, ‘Writings On The Wall’ is menacing, taking a stalkers change of pace, not too dissimilar to King 810’s slower numbers but more effective, with McCall ominous, while ‘The Sound Of Violence’ revisits ‘Sleepwalker’s urgent groove, a song on the prowl. In an album full of massive bangers, ‘Vicious’ stands its ground and stands out, even deep in the album running order, a bone fide anthem, before ‘A Deathless Song’ is a more sombre epic that takes us home in a sea of guitar harmonies.
There is no other way to say this, Ire is Parkway Drive with a super power-up; bigger and so much more larger-than-life than expected. The rampant aggressive grooves that define their sound fleck every track with reckless abandon, but by allowing the very best of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s to infiltrate where appropriate, Parkway Drive have created an absolute monster.