Every Parkway Drive album ranked from worst to best

Winston McCall on stage
(Image credit: Mike Lewis Photography/Redferns (via Getty))

From their humble beginnings as an underground metallic hardcore band in their native Australia to the world-beating, fire-shooting metal behemoth that we all know and love today, Parkway Drive have a back catalogue most bands could only dream of. Of course, all of their albums are great, but here we try and rank them from worst to best anyway. It's a hard job, but someone...well, you know.

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7. Atlas (2012)

While it’s clear that if Atlas was made by just about any other modern metalcore band it would be hailed as a masterpiece, this isn’t just any other metalcore band we’re talking about. Parkway Drive had already perfected the formula, and Atlas suffers solely from the fact that it’s up against such exceptional competition and really brought nothing new to a band who would go on to completely re-invent themselves on their next release. Still, whack on Dark Days and then try to fathom that this is their weakest album. Skyscraper-high standards.

6. Killing With A Smile (2005)

KWAS is packed full of absolute bangers, but Parkway were only beginning to flex their creative muscles. Still, it was brimming with riffs and brutal beatdowns that were a step up in terms of extremity compared to their peers – certainly a song like Guns For Show, Knives For A Pro would sit far more comfortably with a band like Bleeding Through than your average metalcore chancer. Long-time fans and purists may even argue it’s their best, but Parkway Drive were only just opening their box of tricks.

5. Darker Still (2022)

Parkway may continue to make longtime fans grumble because they aren't churning one-dimensional metalcore, but to most people their growth and evolution has been more than welcome. Once again there was scoffing and stamping of feet when Darker Still dropped, but inevitably, the furore died down and it became clear that Parkway Drive had once again pushed themselves into interesting new musical pastures. Even if you don't enjoy the sound of it, surely they should be applauded for their desire to continue expanding their horizons (pun intended). Rather than merely a set of riffs, Darker Still is a piece that deserves to be consumed in its entirety, detailing the mental dissatisfaction, personal troubles and general discontent of the members of the band, getting more hopeless and bleak as the album continues, their sonic pallet stretching from anthemic power metal to slow, doomy, ambient atmospherics. Not the "heaviest", not the most instantly satisfying, but unquestionably one of their most interesting efforts.

4. Horizons (2007)

When judging the business end of this list, we’re basically just splitting hairs; Horizons is a blockbuster of an album. Featuring some bona fide anthems like Carrion and Boneyards, and with another sterling production job from Killswitch Engage’s Adam D, this would be many people’s choice for the top spot, and it’s certainly where Parkway Drive cemented themselves alongside the premier metalcore bands. A listen to the huge rhythmic shifts and melodic guitar leads in Idols And Anchors shows why most of the competition were left choking on their dust.

3. Reverence (2018)

Parkway Drive’s fifth album Ire came as a shock to many, especially when they first heard the galloping singalong of opening single Vice Grip. This follow-up didn’t raise as many eyebrows as its predecessor, though Parkway showed they were still keen to stretch the boundaries of their music. The band had lost multiple friends and loved ones in the interim period, and the shadow of death hung heavy over Reverence; while the crushing Absolute Power and Prey seethed with grief-fuelled fury, it was experimental moments such as the slow and sombre Cemetery Bloom and the pitch-black closing lament The Colour Of Leaving that provided the album’s most harrowing moments. A whole different strand of heavy.

2. Deep Blue (2010)

With metalcore in the shitter and a slew of uninspiring, fourth-generation no-hopers clogging up the scene, you might have expected Parkway Drive to dip alongside the genre’s general fortunes. Not a bit of it. Deep Blue is the prime example of Parkway at their metallic hardcore best. Joe Barresi stepped into the production chair to give songs like Home Is For The Heartless and Sleepwalker more depth, clarity and a heavier edge, yet never let the band lose the furious energy that they had become famous for. And when you’ve got a song like Karma in your cannon, any idea that Parkway were losing their edge would seem absurd.

1. Ire (2015)

The stylistic leap of faith that Parkway Drive made on Ire paid off handsomely; the moment when they confirmed their future as not just a great metalcore band, but as one of modern heavy music’s definitive acts. Sure, some of their peers may have already leaned on classic rock for influence, but no band associated with this type of music has ever pulled influence from Nick Cave and Tom Waits like Parkway do on Writings On The Wall, or the Rage Against The Machine-style groove on Crushed. Ire is the sound of a band soaring well away from the box they had previously been placed in, and that has to be applauded. Plus, on a simpler note, Bottom Feeder is an all-time rager. 

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.