Review Summary: Another mediocre affair unfortunately.
Sometimes you think some people like their condition. If they are happy being who they are, they won’t think of aspiring to greater things. When we’re talking about any of Parkway Drive’s LP, this is the truth in its most pure form. They once wrote on album that launched them to stardom (Killing with a Smile) and after that they stopped doing anything worthwhile . Since then, they’ve been executing the same rehashed formula, releasing album after album, all of them solid no doubt, but surely not all that interesting.
I’m barely holding myself here from tearing this album to shreds. Some time in 2010 I found myself liking their debut effort, thinking that for once the breakdowns we’re interesting and meaningful. In time I figured that they weren’t all that fancy, but they worked within the music’s context. And we were all fine with that. Furious riffs, menacing break-downs, angry screaming, what could go wrong? For the first try (lets say first 2 tries), all things worked out. But you see, when you put out the same album 3 times, it getting a bit underwhelming. These guys can write fun songs now and then, but I haven’t seen one of them since their Horizons days.
Let me give you examples of what is bugging me with this record. Take „Dream Run” intro and compare it with Deep Blue’s „Sleepwalker”’s or „Hollow”’s. What so special about background intro riffing? Sure, on Deep Blue they conveyed the idea that the sound comes from under water, but the whole water theme is gone from Atlas. So what gives? Then there is the pointless wannabe Dj-ing/remixing happening in The Slow Surrender (2:45-2:58). I seriously can not think of a good reason for that being there. Interesting, catchy, fun? Nope. Unexpected and a bit annoying? Yep. A third thing would be a general lack of hooks. Only 3 songs contain anything barely noteworthy. The spoken section of „The River”, the gang vocals during „Wild Eyes” and the final break-down starting at 2:16 and ending at 3:07 on „Swing”. The rest of the album is mostly normal average metalcore affair: Chug-scream-chug-breakdown-scream-breakdown-chug.
On a more positive note, Parkway Drive does have a few interesting songs (interesting for them anyway). The first one is Wild Eyes, which effectively uses arpeggios in the intro and gang vocals during the chorus. Not too much of an improvement, but hey, it’s something. The second thing I didn’t see coming was the inclusion of a female vocalist for one of the tracks, the appropriately titled „The River”. This is the only song on the album that has a few seconds on quietness. No drums, no growls. The seemingly distant voice of a woman, and a few licks of the guitar. How nice, it may seem. It’s even nicer when this „moment” develops to the spoken section sang by both the vocalist and the lady „Hold out your hand, sink into me / Hold out your hand, I’ll take you away.” For a few seconds, I was literally taken away to a more tranquil place. But then the screaming comes back and it ruins the great atmosphere it just created.
Fans of Parkway Drive will like Atlas for what it is. More solid, albeit slightly uninteresting stuff from one of their favorite bands. For the rest of you, you aren’t missing anything. Move on.