Overall Score: 8/10 Songs: 8/10 Creativity: 9/10 Replay value: 8/10 Pros: An expansive album from a band at the peak of their powers Cons: Stumbles a bit towards the end
Change and diversity in art is natural and essential. You cannot evolve if you are content with repeating yourself. It’s worth bearing this in mind when we look at our favourite artists. We love the things we love for many different reasons. It is however unreasonable to expect the people who create the things we love to not change or grow, because it wouldn’t be to our liking.
With that in mind, you’d think that PARKWAY DRIVE had denounced heavy music entirely, flipped off all their fans in the process and started an entirely acoustic pop covers band. That is what the internet would have you believe, given some of the knee jerk reactions to their latest singles.
For anyone who has been paying attention to the band’s career over the last decade, Darker Still will yield little in the way of shocking moments. From the release of Atlas (2012) until now, it has seemed fairly obvious the direction they were going in, and you know what? they have continued to smash it every step of the way.
PARKWAY DRIVE are a band that has always balanced the heavy and the heartfelt. The aforementioned evolution has seen them veer more into the heavy thematically rather than musically. With that said, there are still moments on Darker Still that hit like a haymaker between the eyes.
Like Napalm and Soul Bleach are both trademark heavy pit starters that are destined to become live staples in the years to come. Proving they haven’t forgotten their roots. Glitch sees them leaning into a more nu-metal sound, stomping along on a riff with more bounce than a kangaroo on a pogo stick. The title track is a pensive and brooding ballad. Conjuring images of a cowboy seeing the sun set for the final time. Echoes of The Unforgiven by METALLICA reverberating throughout. It’s a beautifully constructed centrepiece to the album that oozes bruising fragility.
If A God Can Bleed is the best song that Tom Waits never wrote. Full of menace and spite, it creeps its way into the middle of the album and is one of its darkest moments. Darker Still does stumble a little before it reaches the finish line. Stranger is a completely superfluous interlude that breaks the flow of the album. Land Of The Lost follows but does little to raise the energy levels. It’s serviceable but is a little by the numbers in context of the rest of the album.
From The Heart Of The Darkness sees the album go out on an explosive note. Arguably Darker Still‘s heaviest moments are its last. This is an epic rager that will surely delight old school fans who have been vocally pining for the band’s older sound to return. It perfectly calls back to PARKWAY DRIVE‘s past while emphatically demonstrating the band they are now. It’s a powerful way to cap off the record.
Darker Still will no doubt be a divisive record, it’s already proving to be before it’s even been released. It is a dense, multi-layered album that showcases PARKWAY DRIVE at a creative peak. Free of the shackles that others have tried to place on them, they have spread their wings and constructed one of the most expansive, heartfelt and interesting releases of their career. This album won’t be for everyone, but for those that get it, this album could be everything.
Darker Still releases September 9th via Epitaph Records.
For more information on PARKWAY DRIVE, like their official page on Facebook.