As Parkway‘s first real venture into concept album territory, Reverence is ambitious as it is brilliant. Kicking off with the spoken/growled, fast-paced first single Wishing Wells, it’s clear they’re not putting out Ire again as many had feared. Opening with spoken words spat with fury, frontman Winston McCall has a point to prove – the time spent away is not time wasted. Breaking into the mildly more familiar second track Prey, the band sound more mature than ever before. Giant gang vocals, bouncy beats and octaved leads provide more of the sound all onlookers have been expecting.
A crunchy bass solo brings in third track Absolute Power with crushing power before the band descends, breaking away into more spoken/growled combination vocals. Screams of “the truth drops like a bomb / the battle is on” brings in a wah-soaked solo, displaying the guitar techniques of Parkway old have not been lost despite the stylistic change. Comments about how the band has “outgrown metalcore” worried some people about losing breakdowns and heaviness – the venue-demolishing ending to the track proves that spirit isn’t gone by any stretch of the imagination.
Vocally, this album is the most interesting material of Parkway Drive‘s career. Experimenting with different styles of screaming and spoken word, the lyrics are conveyed with different effects throughout Reverence – something that has worked out incredibly well. Where Ire sounded quite similar the whole way through from the lack of variation, the experimenting throughout this album keeps each track fresh and moving on from the last while the instrumentation ensures the tracks aren’t a rag-tag bunch thrown together. The differences and similarities bring the album together as a whole fantastically which seems to be an art lost to an extent in recent years in heavy music.
The contrast can best be seen between Wishing Wells, Prey and Shadow Boxing clearly. The latter is an interesting track in total and perhaps the most ambitious song the band have released ever. Beginning with clean, melodic guitar lines matched with similar vocals, the emotion of the lyrics is brought through with ease as McCall sings “I leave a scar on all I touch” and breaking into a rap/growl build which sounds phenomenal in the context of the track. Building through chugging guitars combined with a huge string and piano sound, they have managed to create a giant symphonic rock sound which retains its heaviness somehow, showing off just how good this lot are as musicians.
Overall, Reverence is the best collection of Parkway songs to date. Variation, experimentation and pure heaviness are the keys to unlock the brilliance, but they have hit a winner here and the tour later this year is set to be very special indeed with these tracks in their arsenal.