Review Summary: Fractured quality.
Parkway Drive has proven to be a near anomaly in metalcore, that rare outfit that hasn’t had a true misstep in their career. Their equally harmonious and ferocious melodic metalcore output has been quite consistent whether considered in terms of album to album or song to song. Deep Blue
had been the nearest the band has come to a below average record, but even being a stale addition to their discography it was a solid and highly enjoyable release in its own right. Thus, Parkway Drive managed to skirt around the dreaded pitfall in their career by the skin of their teeth…until now that is.
is unfortunately a massive drop in quality for the band. It’s doubly unfortunate considering this is the most Parkway Drive has ever experimented with their sound. While it’s not a total rehaul of their sound, Ire
will certainly sound alien to fans of the band’s past work. The pace is markedly slowed down, breakdowns are fairly sparse (at least compared to the days of Horizons
and Killing With A Smile
), and simple riffs coupled with amped up lead work are the name of the game here. Hell, it’s not even a stretch to say that most of the tracks call 80s heavy metal to mind more than metalcore. Few would argue that the band couldn’t use a bit of reinvention in their sound, but the drastic quality drop steals all of Ire’s
The opening moments of “Destroyer” are promising enough with a harmonized lead and a building backdrop that catches the ear, but as the song progresses, warning bells begin to go off. The verse riff is so simplistic that there’s virtually no punch in its execution, and the climactic breakdown, despite featuring more colorful lead work, fails to induce any real excitement. Much of the album’s admittedly inferior first half follows this disappointing formula. “Crushed” is a change of pace, but its perplexing nu metal influences bog it down. Ire’s
second half is an improvement, but not by much. “Writings on the Wall” is ripped apart by an awkward juxtaposition of piano and a strange half sung/half snarl from vocalist Winston McCall, and ends up sounding more like a King 810 song than a Parkway Drive one. Other than a select handful of tracks, most of Ire
hands off between forgettable and outright bad. The closer, “A Deathless Song”, is easily the best here, with a creative acoustic intro, actually captivating music, and just generally stronger songwriting. “Bottom Feeder” also works to an extent as a secondhand “Wild Eyes” (from their previous record Atlas
) and “Vice Grip” very nearly nails the anthemic 80s metal they’ve been aiming for, no doubt due to the same wonderful lead work that carries most of the album forward. McCall’s vocals, when he isn’t aping King 810, are as fantastic as always, effortlessly gliding across the range between scream and growl. Even with these few good points, there’s such an abundance of weak tracks that leave Ire
in a pitfall of its own making.
is the misstep Parkway Drive has dodged throughout their career, but perhaps it’s their due for having such a solid discography up until now. It’s just especially sad to see it come when they finally changed their sound. The experimentation is respectable, it’s just that the execution leaves me wanting. Ire
has its moments, but they’re too few and far between to redeem the other three quarters of its runtime.