Review Summary: Surprising experimentation that isn't an everyday breed you see of the metalcore genre.
Not exactly a mixed bag, metalcore sometimes turns so bland that the thought of another gang of nose-ringed tough-guys makes one cringe in embarrassment. Parkway Drive as a band proves to have a personality of its own. This can be said with ease, since the amount of metalcore bands with clean and acoustic guitar sections, cellos and violins humming along, and melodic female vocals, is not very many. Not in the least is Parkway Drive a band with heavy production focus that happens to ignore the issue of non-talented musicians (a la, Asking Alexandria, Motionless In White, and/or Blood On The Dance Floor).
This band, most fortunately is quite talented, and even knows the scheme of things when it comes to knowledge in viscous musical assaults. The band is tight with texture in its sound, and delivers the casual but necessary metalcore breakdowns. However, experimentation is what the band delivers with the aforementioned heavy production focus. The production is quite welcomed into one’s ears when you hear that the band has some gifts. Winston McCall does not stand out as exclusive in vocal work, but he gets the job done, almost seemingly imitating some similar traits of former Killswitch Engage vocalist, Howard Jones. Luke Kilpatrick (lead guitarist) and Jeff Ling (rhythm guitarist) are a splendid duo, bouncing off another with lively activity. The riffs conveyed in some songs are an attractive substitute to the boring crunchy guitars we hear so much. Ben Gordon on drumming duties is exceptional (hmm, as all metalcore drummers should be, but are not), pounding away in a cathartic, raging blows that give even more character to the anger of this type of hardcore punk. Jia O’ Conner on bass can’t be heard most of the time, as in most bands like this, but he delivers some interesting bass tempos that go along well with the emotional tendencies of the music.
One of the highlights of this album are “Sparks”, which presents the album with a gorgeous acoustic guitar passage and softly-spoken vocals that eventually boils over and breaks into screaming. “Wild Eyes” is probably a well-needed and proud addition to metalcore, with anthemic male whoas and an almost tribal drum beat occupying the seat for that ‘wow-man’ feeling. “The River” is another acoustic guitar passage, accompanied by cellos and violins that soar in almost tear-jerking fashion (I’m frightened, that’s definetly not normal at all). The title-track is the chief admirable moment of the whole album, carrying an emotional response with many instruments like the aforesaid clean guitar strumming, cellos, violins, and this time pianos. A truly beautiful metal song, which can be said without sounding silly at all (listen to it yourself, you’ll know what I mean). The closer, “Blue and the Grey” ends the program peacefully while still being heavy in its delivery, an electric guitar riff at the end being specifically excellent.
Wholly, Atlas has no terrible or mediocre players. There are only two tracks that don’t seem to stand out from the crowd of other tunes as much (“Old Ghost / New Regrets” and “Dream Run”). Atlas is experimental in its achievements of some unique boundary pushes. It not only gets the job done with texture and the musical abilities of the band, but it also seizes the day in the end, going gaga with new ideas that are hatched effectively.
Recommended Tracks: “Sparks”, “Wild Eyes”, “The River”, “Atlas”, “Blue and the Grey”.