In the past year, I have become quite the fan of Parkway Drive. I have been told to listen to them for years, and their 2016 album Ire got me hooked. That is still my favorite album by the band. With a mix of their new style and original sound, it was almost perfect. I went through the whole catalog of their music, and I like pretty much everything. Their previous albums range from good to excellent. Now their latest release is here, Reverence. Continuing the progression that they started with Ire, the band is in new territory.
I had high hopes for the first song that was released, Wishing Wells which was fantastic then The Void came which was also good. Prey is where all went downhill. I respect the group immensely for their experimentation and progression, I prefer bands doing so. However, this album as a whole does not do that well.
Instrumentally speaking, that is the most consistent aspect of the album. Parkway has always had a great sense of melodic riffs and heavy breakdowns. Something to satisfy anyone. Some orchestral elements can be heard on the album, and it sounds beautiful. This can be heard from the love song on the album called Cemetary Bloom. It would be more powerful if Winston were singing. Instead, his talking and low whispers do not fit that well at all. Having a violin, cello, and other similar instruments does not make for the heaviest of albums, but it works. The bass can be heard clearly throughout and can be really heavy at times with some new groove thrown in there. Everyone is on their A game to deliver a softer album, but a solid job on their parts.
Winston is a great screamer but has never been able to do much in the past. We hear him mostly talking throughout the whole album, maybe more than actual screams. His aggression to his voice is a nice touch but gets boring. It is the same issue I have with other bands who do this such as Whitechapel, who rely on it a bit too much. Well, just like Whitechapel, we do hear Winston attempt to sing in a few songs, but we will get to that in a moment. His vocal delivery for talking and sometimes screaming has less raw emotion to some songs. Prey has an interesting meaning about power, but some of the lyrics and vocal delivery make it not feel as if there is much emotional power to it. A lot of different styles thrown in that does not work entirely. His singing in The Colour of Leaving is pretty good. I was shocked to hear it, and wonder why he did not do it for other songs. It might have boosted the other songs if he continued a bit more. The cleans are not great, but it works. From a few moments in Ire, we hear Winston have some moments where he is rapping. In Shadow Boxing is where he utilizes his screams, cleans, and raps. He can rap quite well, but the song itself falls short overall.
Lyrically, the album can have some inconsistent moments. All of the songs are quite powerful in what Winston has to say. Songs about grief over a lost loved one, power in corporations, and religious groups abusing children. The album has a level of pathos to it, but aspects that I have talked about before is what makes almost every song fall flat. The opening song Wishing Wells is by far the best song off of the album. A phenomenal start that holds a lot of power. Winston utilizes the moments to talk in a way that carries weight along with some brutal screams. The song is about having nobody or nothing to blame for losing someone you love. The pain is there and can be felt through the vocal performance and the lyrics. One lyric says, “So ask me how I’m coping, and I’ll smile and tell you: “I’m just fine” While down inside I’m drowning in the fucking rain.” I wish the rest of the album could give these emotions to me, but nothing really touched me in that way compared to Wishing Wells. To give an example of a lyric I did not care for was the chorus of Absolute Power, “The truth drops like a bomb.” It felt a bit cheesy when hearing it. Not much was done in the chorus to make it memorable. I did not hear some catchy chorus to sing along to, or that makes me want to have fun in the pit. Just like a lot of the album, it falls short of being quite good.
Reverence is the biggest disappointment of the year. I love Parkway Drive and respect the changes they made, but not everything worked. If there was more screaming and some work to some lyrics then maybe this would be better. The album is not bad, but it is not that good either. I love one song, and like two or three others. What hurts more is the album only has ten tracks, and most of them are not that good.
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Image via Parkway Drive/Epitaph Records