For Fans Of
I should start this review off by saying that I love melodic hardcore – I bloody love it. Which means that while I love so many bands from the genre, Australian and/or otherwise, I am also very critical of anything that gets hastily slapped with that tag. Much like the same way that I love horror movies but will also be the first to point out when a horror is simply lazy and relies on clichés and cheap jump scares rather than creating strong atmosphere, good tension building, palpable dread, and hosting a solid villain/monster/threat. Because I really do love horror movies that genuinely creep me out and give me a reason to care about the characters in danger. And I really do love melodic hardcore, but not because of the nuts and bolts that make it, but because of the potential said nuts and bolts have to provide some of the most cathartic and emotional music you will ever hear.
To get to the subject of this review, Melbourne band Parkwood’s debut EP ‘Close To Home‘ very much operates within this framework of melodic hardcore, and while that does mean that no new territory is being covered, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a solid debut EP for a band obviously still cutting their teeth. Debut EP’s are rarely completely indicative of a band’s overall competence and ability, but if ‘Close To Home‘ is anything to go by I will be keeping a close eye on Parkwood in the future.
Opener ‘Lose Yourself‘ (no, it’s not an Eminem cover) opens at breakneck speed and while it could easily have been a fairly standard hard and fast first track, it instead opts to explore some deeper ebb and flow, fitting in a surprising amount of dynamic contrast in only the first two minutes and twenty-two seconds. The vocals are delivered with more than enough passion to satisfy your inner emo and the way in which the screamed and clean vocals are used together and navigated between one another largely deviates from standard verse/chorus re-treads that we’ve heard a thousand times before. The riffs in this EP’s songs shift back and forth between Counterparts-esque heaviness and more melodic passages reminiscent of earlier Being As An Ocean, which gives the wider release a sound that, while not being original by any stretch, wears its influence on its sleeve with confidence and conviction. That is one of the things I like most about this EP – nothing is there for the sake of filling out time. Everything is there for a reason, and that reason is to make you take real notice of Parkwood. Hopefully, with later releases their current sound – which is very close to that of Sydney’s now-quiet Perspectives and Queensland’s Stepson – is refined and honed into something that people will hear and immediately attribute to the Parkwood name.
The final track ‘Goodbye‘ is a definite highlight for me, a track that utilises the full array of techniques and sounds they have used so far and adding in a yet-unheard spoken word part. While the slightly sketchy guitar tone does take away from the fantastic first half of the song, it is a tasteful and – I think – successful implementation of a technique that has almost become a spoof of itself in a few instances in recent memory. However, one issue I do have with the EP is the mix. I hate to be the one to bash an independent release on the mix, but it was uncomfortably flat across much of the runtime. Where it felt like it wanted or needed to reach another gear it couldn’t because there was no headspace for it to grow into, and this meant that a few of these tracks were almost – almost – exhausting to listen to. Thankfully, this genre lends itself to these kinds of shorter, punchier releases and this wasn’t nearly as big an issue as it would have been if I were listening to a full-length album.
Don’t expect to get sold on the entire melodic hardcore genre solely via the strength of Parkwood’s debut EP, but it’s no doubt a well-crafted entry from a local Aussie band that will surely be on the up from here on out. There is a lot to like here but for the Parkwood to give us something really worth paying attention to, there needs to be more for us to hear that is a distinctly Parkwood sound. For a debut release, this is more than fine though, and it’s far enough above the seas of mindless Bandcamp melodic hardcore releases out there that’ll only waste your time.
- Lose Yourself
- Back To Me
- Prove Myself