Live: Parkway Drive / Heaven Shall Burn / Northlane

Australian metalcore heroes chalk up another victory

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Maybe it’s because they’re still coming to grips with their new vocalist but there’s something increasingly pedestrian about NORTHLANE [6] tonight.

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding this Aussie unit, but it’s hard to pinpoint why during a performance whose tepid nature centres around a sound that’s djent-tinged and Deftones-lite. There’s not a lot of muscle or movement from crowd or audience outside of a closing Quantum Flux that leaves the jury well and truly still out on them. HEAVEN SHALL BURN [8], by contrast, bring all manner of thunder and their more metallic edge serves them greater with tonight’s mosh-ready throng. They may be more popular in mainland Europe than the UK but this barrage of a performance will do some good towards changing that.

Over the years, it’s fair to say that PARKWAY DRIVE [9] have been the standout live band of their generation. If you saw them back in the days of playing the Never Say Die! Tour on the toilet circuit where everyone was leaping off of each other’s head like it was a Super Mario Brothers mosh orgy, they are still the same live band they are today, just on a grander stage… and now with added fire. Kicking things off with the squealing intro to Wild Eyes, a venue that is already at fever pitch roars along with the song’s full-throated intro as an explosion hits and before you know it the Roundhouse is covered in so much toilet paper you could easily think that it’s Halloween again. Parkway have always had inflatable palm trees and various other props in the past to give a little more to the audience than the average band, but when flames soar skywards from the stage during a frenzied Karma with the kind of ferocity that’d have Nergal shitting a brick, it says a great degree of where the band are going in the future.

The charm of Parkway’s live show lies in something far more simplistic than mosh anthems and fire, though. The positivity that surges from the stage is immeasurable. Winston McCall is able to go from grinning like a maniac at the melee that his band are causing tonight – and make no mistake, this is as raucous and dedicated a crowd as you could wish to see – to standing at the lip of the stage and growling like he’s possessed. His bandmates tag-team the stage, a constant blur of motion, and you simply won’t find another band who look like they are having this good a time anywhere. That party vibe and atmosphere has always been present at Parkway shows but you can now add to that the likes of a pile-driving Sleepwalker, the euphoria that greets an Idols And Anchors casually thrown in during the early part of the set, and every single voice doing every single mosh call like their lives depend on it. The ‘So cry me a fucking river, bitch’ from a devastating Romance Is Dead is so loud, Justin Timberlake must surely have turned his head somewhere over the Atlantic. Have you heard a crowd sing guitar parts all night?

More than any other band from their generation, Parkway Drive deserve credit for having done things their way. While others may bend to suit their creative tendencies or for commercial gain, Parkway Drive have spent the past 12 years ploughing through everything in sight like a wrecking ball. They’ve become something like their fellow countrymen AC/DC in that you know what a Parkway album or live show is going to deliver. It doesn’t have to be smart or fit in with what everyone else is doing and, though Winston has been hinting at change coming when they shortly begin work on album number five, it doesn’t ever really have to deviate from the plan too much because they have a sound that’s their own. Skate punk pace, hardcore integrity and lyrical positivity (Romance Is Dead aside), more shred than a paper-ripping competition and beatdowns that sound like a meteorite crashing into Earth combine to lethal effect. You can hear shades of Unearth and Hatebreed in there, but this is a sound that the second it hits your eardrums, you know it’s Parkway.

People have been coming to Parkway shows for years and will continue to because, in the live environment at least, they can take on anyone, anywhere at any time and emerge victorious. The pyro is more than just a fun addition – it’s a rubberstamp that this is a band on the up and ready to take on bands of a bigger standing, both on stage and off. This show is the perfect way to sign off yet another flawless album cycle for Atlas and let everyone know that the best days are still yet to come. When you consider how fucking incredible tonight was, that’s how on the cusp of greatness Parkway Drive are. 2015 isn’t going to know what’s hit it.