Just a few months ago, Parkway Drive’s future seemed murky. Having cancelled a US tour in order to work on internal relationships that were seemingly at breaking point during its recording, album seven is met by as much relief as excitement. And while the turbulent nature of its development and the employment of therapists has a whiff of St. Anger’s creation, the results of Darker Still bear more of a resemblance to the globe-conquering aesthetic of The Black Album.
A continuation of the steady evolution over the band’s past few efforts, Darker Still’s distillation of ideas into a more methodical, deliberate sound is perfectly aimed for the arenas and headline slots the band now comfortably occupy. The Greatest Fear, Like Napalm, Imperial Heretic and the unmistakable power ballad tropes of the title track are instantaneous anthems that embed themselves into your cranium.
While Winston McCall continues to diversify his vocal attack on every track, channelling righteous indignation outside and in, the man of the match award goes to Jeff Ling. Always capable of writing a lead line that can ignite mass singalongs, almost every song here has a soaring guitar part that steals the show, combined with iconic solos nodding to messrs Slash and Hammett.
While the highest peaks are sought and scaled, Darker Still isn’t lacking the band’s undeniable grunt. After the minimalist thrum of If A God Can Bleed, Soul Bleach stomps through with disregard, the dystopian synth-led Land Of The Lost builds into a ferocious eruption, and From The Heart Of The Darkness morphs from an unashamedly simple riff to end proceedings in a colossal wall of sound. That Parkway Drive are back at all is a blessing. That they’ve set their sights on the stratosphere is even more thrilling.
Darker Still is out now via Epitaph