Parkway Drive – Atlas


Artist

Album

Atlas

Label

Resist Records

Year

2012

Genre

For Fans Of

I Killed The Prom Queen - Killswitch Engage

Summary

Pales in comparison to what has come before.

Rating

65 / 100

As the old saying goes, heavy is the head who wears the crown. Byron Bay five-piece Parkway Drive are the undisputed kings of Australian metalcore, tightening their stranglehold with every tour and inspiring a slew of imitators across their decade-long career. Their hotly-anticipated fourth studio album, ‘Atlas’, follows in the footsteps of 2010’s ‘Deep Blue’, pushing past the cutthroat riffage and relentless heaviness of their earlier work in favour of a more expansive yet equally aggressive sound. The band’s ever-enduring musicianship and attempts at progression on the album are admirable, but ‘Atlas’ doesn’t quite stack up to the mountain of expectation surrounding it. 

Sparks’ sets an operatic tone with effect-laden guitar and vocal drones. A simplistic classical guitar line, booming horns and high-pitched strings enter the fray as drummer Ben Gordon provides a bombastic, military drumbeat. Winston McCall brings a familiar voice for fans to latch onto with a softly spoken verse, demonstrating from the outset that he hasn’t lost his talent for memorable, affecting lyrics: “We are but sparks in a darkened world, and yet some things were born to burn.”

Given the impressive opener, it’s somewhat confusing when ‘Deep Blue’ déjà vu quickly sets in with Old Ghosts / New Regrets’. The riff pattern and the tempo will remind many of ‘Unrest’, and while this is forgivable, the track’s overall blandness is not. Chugging, colourless breakdowns and some of McCall’s most generic lyrics – “We’re born with nothing and we die alone” – break the opener’s promise of epic, expansive songwriting.

Dream Run sets itself up as a less interesting ‘Sleepwalker clone, introducing a fast-paced two-step beat and chugging, root note powerchord anchorage before ripping the rug from the listener’s feet. Its chorus pairs the aforementioned grind with the brightest, most uplifting guitar tone that Parkway Drive has ever used, pushing the track forward with beautiful chords and an interesting lead riff. What’s unfortunate about ‘Atlas’ is that moments of colour and progression on the album are all too fleeting, giving us brief glimpses of what could’ve been before descending back to the familiar mosh slog

When Parkway Drive dedicates itself to a fresh idea for longer than the blink of an eye, it is all too often reminiscent of an older, more superior track. ‘The River’ puts the aggression to the wayside, softening the blow with ethereal, angelic background vocals and a tender moment from McCall: “Throw your arms around me.” However, these details are built around a riff and chord progression that scream of 2007’s ‘Idols and Anchors’, while lacking the energy and memorable refrain – “Burn all you love!” – that made the track so effective.

However, there are some diamonds in the rough. On ‘Sleight Of Hand’, the guitar duo of Luke Kilpatrick and Jeff Ling put a more “metal” spin on the razorsharp, catchy riffs that brought the band to prominence in the first place. Dark Days’ is opened with what could almost be a Metallica riff, built around a familiar powerchord chug that gives way to frenetic, fast-paced guitar and drumwork. Faster moments such as this give Atlas‘ a much-needed energy boost, but it is not enough to compensate for inferior, derivative songwriting that does not give the band’s undoubted musical talent justice. 

Conclusion

It is clear from their occasional use of diverse instrumentation and experimentation with different guitar tones that Parkway Drive were trying to mix up the formula with ‘Atlas’. Unfortunately, the songwriting fails to match the catchiness and accessibility of their previous albums, all too often resembling bastardised versions of fan favourites. Nothing could detract from the undoubted musical ability that Parkway Drive possess, but compared to everything else in their discography, ‘Atlas’ sits in last place.

Tracklisting

1. Sparks
2. Old Ghost / New Regrets
3. Dream Run
4. Wild Eyes
5. Dark Days
6. The River
7. Swing
8. The Slow Surrender
9. Atlas
10. Sleight of Hand
11. Snake Oil and Holy Water
12. Blue and the Grey

17 Responses to “Parkway Drive – Atlas”

  1. Nathan Explosion

    65? Are you kidding me? I thought it was a brilliant album (and that’s coming from someone who isn’t fussed on Parkway)

  2. mdm90

    You would hate to be reviewing this album based on their previous work wouldn’t you? Judged purely on this album it is worth way more than 65. If you want something that sounds like killing with a smile or horizons, then just go and listen to them

  3. SteveC SteveC

    I’d agree Parkway are past their best, but I actually thought this album was a return to form after Deep Blue, which really didn’t do much for me.

  4. connorbradley4

    Really do not like this album… Maybe it’s the over hyping it has received from Parkway fanboys since Chasing Ghosts was released with people promising me it would be 10x better, but this album killed Parkway for me… There was still potential from Deep Blue, but I really don’t like this… Well past their prime.

  5. Firey259 FireEscape

    I haven’t cared much for PWD since KWAS, but you actually rate this above deep blue?
    Pull the cocks out of your ears NASH

  6. Anonymous

    There are some pretty decent tracks on here, but some are murdered with woah woahs and scratched Limp Bizkitesque vox. KWAS still rates as they’re best IMO, and I like Deep Blue better than this release. I’m sure I’ll still enjoy them live, but I won’t be playing Atlas much. Actually their albums in chrono order read a little like Metallica, this being their ‘Black’ album. Old fans not fussed, new fans love it.

  7. LifeUnderground

    Deserves much more than 65. This is a diverse, creative and enjoyable metalcore album, regardless of how much better anyone might perceive their back catalogue to be.

  8. lukey77

    Whoever reviewed this and gave it a 65 rating needs to quit smoking crack. Are you serious? August Burns Red xmas carol garbage even got a 75. What a joke. It’s hard to grant credibilty to reviews when this type of rubbish passes.

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