‘Atlas’ Hits Hard and Heavy

Courtesy of Epitaph Records

For longtime metalcore rockers Parkway Drive, making fantastic music from the drudges of the most skull-crushing combinations of guitars and drums is a feat they are quite familiar with. With “Atlas” being their fourth studio album in their 10 years a band, they bring to the scene their best effort yet.

What these Australians manage to accomplish here is impressive; with the acoustic guitar riffs and symphonic elements of “Sparks” to the immediate and familiar breakneck elements of “Old Ghost/New Regrets,” Parkway Drive shows that they’re still here to deliver some good old metalcore goodness.

One of Parkway Drive’s strongest assets are lead vocalist Winston McCall’s thick and satisfying screams, which gives their songs a sense of sheer passion and aggression. Parkway Drive’s songs also take more melodic approaches, i.e. “The River,” which allow for the McCall’s vocals to shine through in a new light over the licks of guitarists Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick. Both Jia O’Connor on bass and Ben Gordon on drums round out the band, providing their own styles that compliment each other in all the right ways.

Despite having these more melodic sections of their songs, Parkway Drive ensures that fans will still have all the necessary opportunities to feel inspired to kick a hole in a wall. Songs like “Dark Days” and “Swing” bring the pace back up to Autobahn-level speeds with dizzying guitar riffs that’s begging for a crowd to lose their minds to.

While their slight turn toward more melodic elements in their songs is one that is interesting and refreshing, it’s also one of the only things holding this album back, if only a little bit. These melodic elements are well-done, but they still seem to be missing that something that makes it something that is completely unforgettable. Don’t expect anything like Bring Me the Horizon’s “Don’t Go,” but Parkway Drive does try their hand at the symphony-infused metal with tortured screams route. It’s good, but nothing stellar.

Coupled with the terrifying and powerful vocal talents of McCall, Parkway Drive have outdone themselves in many ways and set the bar for the next generation of metalcore albums, and have easily created one of the best albums in the genre for 2012. Without a doubt, “Atlas” is an album that should not be missed and is a must-add to any metal lover’s collection.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5