By Philip Wilson
Photo by: Alex Grant – Flickr!
Horizons, the sophomore album by Australian hardcore outfit, Parkway Drive, is a thirty-eight minute ride through intricate musicianship laced with brain-churning breakdowns and heavy chugging riffs. Following their successful first album: Killing With A Smile, Parkway Drive turned to Adam Dutkiewicz, of Killswitch Engage fame, to produce the twelve tracks that would become Horizons. The Killswitch influence is ever-present but never intrusive, further solidifying the aggressive, catchy and brutal elements that make this recording uniquely Parkway Drive.
The album kicks off with the instrumental build-up that is Begin, and the 49 seconds that it lasts are hardly enough to prepare you for the bombardment that is The Siren’s Song. Frontman Winston McCall’s guttural scream pierces the shredding guitar solo with a precision and depth that did not exist on the previous album, a product of better recording or a sign of vocal development on the part of McCall but either way a good sign of things to come.
Parkway Drive may have done away with cheesy one-liners that prelude epic breakdowns, but that may be due to the fact that the breakdowns speak for themselves in Horizons. Feed Them To The Pigs: a song whose title comes from Guy Ritchie’s gangster film, Snatch, provides the perfect example of fast paced “circle pit” inducing rhythm as well as the crescendo that is a signature Parkway Drive breakdown. The whole song builds up to the moment in which something has to give, and when it does we are berated by the brutal voice of McCall: “Armed to the teeth, born from the shadows. Burning for revenge.” The ensuing drop in tempo and the intensity of the dying moments of the song are an instant reminder of how unique Parkway Drive have managed to remain in a genre that has exploded with newcomers in the past few years.
While no song in the Horizons disappoints, there are a few standouts. Carrion, Boneyards, Idols and Anchors and the title-track Horizons carry the momentum forward, ensuring that the passion and energy of the first three songs is maintained throughout the album. While Carrion is slower than other songs in the album, it oozes with an energy and passion that other songs don’t. Boneyards is the blood pumping, gang-vocal inciting depiction of death at sea. McCall muses the idea of hopelessness in a world without heroes in Idols and Anchors, as the album claws its way into deeper and darker territory. The melodic and serene intro to the final track, Horizons, is slowly torn apart, eventually descending into the hopeless encore of what is truly a remarkable album.
In Horizons, Parkway Drive have managed to successfully follow up to the album that put them on the map. While Killing With A Smile brought them to our ears, Horizons kept us listening, a feat that should not be overlooked in a genre where bands rarely last more than one album before changing their sound to something more radio-friendly. Parkway Drive, through sticking to their guns, recording with Adam Dutkiewicz and by adding to what has become a sound that they have made their own, have created a superb album. Horizons peaked at number 6 on the ARIA charts in Australia, a remarkable achievement for an album of its genre.