Written by Alex Stojanovic
The Greatest Fear
If A God Can Bleed
Land Of The Lost
From The Heart Of The Darkness
Release Date: September 9, 2022
Label: Epitaph Records
Winston McCall - Vocals / Jeff Ling - Lead guitars / Luke Kilpatrick - Rhythm guitars
Ben Gordon - Drums / Jia O'Connor - Bass
Starting off as a pure metalcore band from the 2000s to the early 2010s with Killing With A Smile, Horizons, Deep Blue and Atlas, they moved into a more classic/traditional metal direction with Ire and Reverence. The move to a more traditional metal sound made the metalcore era fans have an absolute conniption fit. I find it hilarious watching this group of fans turn into crybabies because they just open themselves up to be roasted to the max with the way they express their opinions. They keep trying to claim that the new direction isn't working when it clearly is. Seriously, some of these people need a mind examination when it comes to these things. You obviously aren't forced to like it, but at least understand why the band went in this direction. It's not always about YOU.
Getting back to the people who cry about the old Parkway sound not being there anymore, tracks like "Like Napalm", "Soul Bleach" and "From The Heart Of The Darkness" beg to differ, as they're the closest tracks to having elements of the old sound with the half-time approach creating a breakdown vibe, and Winston McCall bringing back his intense screams from those early albums. If that's not enough to convince you, you're just lying. The biggest eye-opener and head-turner of the album is the title track, which takes us into territory nobody ever thought Parkway would go in. It's the first full ballad the band has ever written, and is destined to be one of the biggest songs in their catalog. It showcases how far the band has come as songwriters and performers, and how underrated Jeff Ling is as a guitarist. The man plays with so much soul, you feel every note he plays. The song pays homage to bands like Metallica, Scorpions, Guns 'N Roses and Dire Straits. Built on the foundation of whistling and acoustic guitars, McCall brings a whole new dimension vocally with 80% cleans until the end where he injects the heaviness with This single track contains more depth and emotion than I've been able to get out of any of the band's older material.
Darker Still is a near perfect album. The only flaw is "If A God Can Bleed". It's a short track, but it feels like it came to fruition from a night of sharing random ideas over bottles of alcohol. I know that's not what happened, but that's what it feels like to me. If this song was either left off the album, or constructed differently, it would've been a perfect record. Despite that flaw, Darker Still is another world class album that shows the Byron Bay lads care about writing songs with a much deeper level of emotion rather than just with heaviness, technicality and breakdowns. They are not silly immature kids anymore as they were on the early albums. They want to do what pleases them, and because the music is resonating with many people, it shows that they are here for the long haul. Both the pandemic and fractured band relationships may have given Parkway Drive more than a few scars while making this record, but they dug their way out of the ashes and re-appeared as strong as they've ever been.
The last thing I want to say to the crybabies is that if you think the new direction and all "mainstream metal" sounds exactly the same, well here's some shocking news for you. Metalcore and breakdowns all sound the same too. There, I just dropped a huge truth bomb on you. Anybody who says that it doesn't at this point in time is just lying. The truth hurts, doesn't it?