Review Summary: Misunderstood, but not faultless
When you consider how negative of reception an album like Reverence
gets, it may pique your interest a tad or at least strike some curiosity in your brain. You may ask if it’s worth the vitriolic response it gets. If there are redeeming qualities that the masses’ disappointed ears are ignoring. In other words, if it’s the dumpster fire that such reception would point to, or rather a hidden, misunderstood gem that needed time to unpack itself through repeated listens. After all, the same exact thing happened with albums that are now seen as modern classics; Weezer’s Pinkerton
springs to mind as far as that’s concerned. Their core audience didn’t quite get it. Newcomers were pushed away. They were forced to play it safe if they had any shot in hell at regaining relevancy, thus incepted the The Green Album
. How does that tie in to the latest from Parkway Drive though？ Unlike Weezer, they’re not struggling for relevance. However, much like Pinkerton
was maligned in the 1990s for not sounding like The Blue Album
, to me Reverence
also feels like a hidden gem that’s simply misunderstood by its audience.
In all fairness to critics, it’s not quite as out of left field as you’d imagine. Ire
was their initial trek in this direction, implementing more traditional metal elements such as clean vocals, much to the dismay of hardcore fans. It wasn’t as refined as it could have been, but there were plenty of moments worth mentioning in spite of its inconsistencies. Like Ire
starts strong, as “Wishing Wells” is easily the most familiar-feeling number in the mix. It’s as much of a slap in the face emotionally as it is well-constructed overall, detailing the grief cycle in a manner that recalls songs like “Blue and the Grey” while remaining honest enough to make the listener relate to it. Most of the songs on Reverence
feel like a journal entry of the struggle that singer Winston McCall endures daily set to music that isn’t usual fare from a band like Parkway Drive. It’s the furthest they’ve strayed from the fierce metalcore that their earlier material was held up on, but there’s still quite a bit to mention in its favor. The driving riffs and leads from Luke Kilpatrick and Jeff Ling are no less notable now than they were on say, Deep Blue
, and the rhythm section holds the band’s trek into less aggressive waters up as well as it held up their older albums.
Despite my comparison of Reverence
in that both were misunderstood, it’s still not quite on that level. “Prey”, for example, is bogged down by Winston McCall’s hit-or-miss vocal delivery. While the speak-sing dynamic works on tracks like “Absolute Power”, “Chronos”, and “Shadow Boxing”, it doesn’t quite work on “Prey”, nor does it on the painfully simplistic “The Void” or the disappointingly misleading “I Hope You Rot”. Thankfully, those few songs are about as bad as it gets though. The likes of “Cemetery Bloom” and “The Colour of Leaving” have a nice, ethereal atmosphere to get lost into, making it easier to forget about the missteps that Reverence
makes. Most of the issues aren’t the fault of the rest of the band, but rather of McCall himself. His performances aren’t quite consistent enough to hold it together in every instance, and seeing as McCall is the main focus, it’s easy to get hung up on that fact and feel like it’s a bad album as a result. Think of it not as a faulted legend, but more a beautiful disaster. The result of intense emotional turmoil, as well as a desire to stray from metalcore convention. It’s not Killing With a Smile
, but once it’s properly understood, it may prove to be just as important as that album was.