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  • Writer's pictureR’nR With Rylo

Spin #91 : Darker Still : Parkway Drive



SUNDAY DROP - SPIN #91



Welcome to our 91st Sunday drop from the R'nR with Rylo collection! If you were with us when we reviewed 'Deep Blue' for our 74th spin, then you'd know that they are two very different albums. Like anything, the band is finding itself at a different stage of life on their 7th studio album and embracing it. I really enjoy their earlier stuff but have come to enjoy their later stuff just as much. I know that our children love what they hear when I put Parkway Drive on to the turntable and even found them singing and whistling along to one of the songs.


I've recently stumbled across some blank cassette tapes and worked out a way to even record albums from Spotify, as I do the washing up in the kitchen. Sometimes the simplicity of hitting a button on the tape deck when you want to hear music has its benefits compared to finding an album on streaming and connecting it with wet hands! Sure the sound isn't as good but for nostalgia reasons, hearing music on tape again was pretty cool. I mention that because I went between the record of this one when I was sitting in the front room and the cassette bootleg. Some of the days have been just too hot to sit at the front of the house and I was begging for a nice cool breeze to start coming in through the windows.


You just know sometimes by holding an album in your hands and looking at the artwork that it is going to be awesome. I looked up the artist who worked on this cover and he has also worked on a few other things for bands and artists too. One of them being the Swedish band, Ghost that we also love here at R'nR. If you get a chance, check out the website by Hedi Xandt and let me know what you think.



Image: Parkway Drive


It's time to #dropthestylus on 'Darker Still' and see which songs become your new favourites. I haven't listened to this one using my headphones through the Sherwood receiver but I can imagine just how good it will be when I finally get that chance. The convenience of cassette tape is fun but if you're looking for the pure experience of listening to the album at it's best, pick vinyl.


I don't know if the album theme was written before the issues that arose within the band or they altered song titles and lyrics after it was all said and done. Throughout this album I read that the band went through some group therapy in order to tackle their personal and group demons. I didn't realise that they had some resentments towards each other and that this album wouldn't have been made without the interjection of therapy. The first song is titled, 'GROUND ZERO' and I don't know if they are referring to this being the new beginning or eveyrthing has now been decimated. Could this be Parkway Drive's last album as a group? According to the band, yes it sadly could be. So many things have been made with struggles going on in the background and sometimes it doesn't take much for the idea to be missed or lost because of self-doubt and in-fighting. I'm glad they could work it out in order to create 'Darker Still'. The theme is to talk to your loved ones, family or someone neutral before it's too late. Too many people's lives could have been saved with a simple discussion and McCall and Ling seem to share that same view.


I really love using these songs to power up for exercise or to get through work days - "Flawless is a fiction, imperfection makes us whole. The weight that holds you down, let it go". It starts off so calm and inviting until McCall and the boys start ripping heads off and the bass is crying out to be turned up. I laughed when people online were referring to a couple of these songs as - Imagine Dragons x Parkway Drive. Terrible reference and I think Parkway Drive gained a lot more fans after releasing this album. Same old people, tearing others down to make themselves feel better instead of embracing creativity and the shit that comes with the spotlight. Ben Gordon's drumming is impeccable as always and I saw that he was selling his house in Byron Bay, NSW recently. If you have yourself a spare 10 million, make sure you go check it out.


Opener was hard without being ridiculous and the second song increases the intensity just that little bit more. 'LIKE NAPALM' continues the dark themese of re-setting and burning everything down to start again. It really challenges listeners to question established ideas and think critically in order to create a new version of yourselves that you can be happy with. This track has one of the best breakdowns on the album and includes a bit of swearing to great effect - "Burn the bridges, fan the flames. Scatter the ashes, dead is dead, is dead to me. Fear is such a fragile place, I can be it. Everything you love to fucking hate. Hell yeah I can see it, everything you love in flames".


We almost had a glitch this week when trying to find some Christmas lights for the kids. I hate how late we have to keep them up because of daylight savings in NSW. By the time the sun goes down and it's dark enough to see any lights, it's almost 9pm. We managed to find a couple of houses getting into the Christmas spirit and funnily enough they were the houses closest to us, on our way back home. Night Kat Kiz and I want to make Christmas magical for the kids and doing our best to show them different things. Whether it is Christmas lights or movies, they seem to be getting more and more involved. I know our 5 year old son is really getting into Christmas this year and our 2 and half year old daughter is slowly figuring it out. She was running around the house with the small plush Santa and Rudolph the Reindeer toys. 'GLITCH' starts off with some softer lyrics that would sound great with headphones on. You might miss them if you are only listening to this song through the computer or cassette. This one was used in a lot of the promotional footage for the album and I can understand why they chose it as a single. There is a moment where McCall really pushes himself vocally and the point of breaking is evident. I thought the idea that this song was talking about night terrors or sleep paralysis to be interesting. Have you had these happen to you whilst asleep?


The stylus keeps moving along and keeps the strength of Side A going with, 'THE GREATEST FEAR'. Softer piano playing and harmonies to lead in the heavy guitar riffing and bass work so well. There is a really cool shirt that has a skeleton king sitting on the throne with the words, "The king of nevermore" on it. I like the heaviness of this song and the feelings it draws out as you listen along. Everyone will get different feelings come out as they listen to music, depending on what is happening in their lives at the time. Our little ones were running around at this point pretending to play air guitars before running out of the room again. "In death we all sing the hymns of nevermore" is a lyric that connects all of us really and shows us just where the band's mindset was during the recording of this album.


I've been wearing a singlet top during the hotter days this week and love that it has the lyrics for this song on the back. It has become one of those songs that will be anthemic of their career for the remainder of days. From the whistling from the worlds best whislter or the guitar work bringing you in from the cold, this song has a lot going on. 'DARKER STILL' was the song that the band made to be similar to Metallica's 'Nothing Else Matters' style. The whistling is known by our kids and they came running again once they heard that coming through the speakers. It was nice to watch and hear then imitate the song and trying to whislte along. A very sad song and also empowering at the same time. The band really did feel like the world was ending at the time of recording and made an album to reflect that. To have the thoughts that the band is ending too, makes this album a miracle that it was even made. "I'm wishing hard upon the night. With every wish, a new star dies. But bright, the light behind her eyes, Until I die, Until I die". One of the best metal songs ever made and what a way to finish Side A. Hard to top.,


Side B starts off with softer sounds slowly increasing through the speakers. 'IMPERIAL HERETIC' is basically about people looking for anything to believe in and the exploitation people have of those believers. Sadly, people want to be saved and will sometimes oversee those warning signs that come with quick fixes. "What will it take to clear the fog from your sight? You want it. The prism of profit warps the purest of mind, You want it. Oh you want it all". Whatever song came on after 'DARKER STILL' was always going to have a hard time. I think this song does however get things back on track in the heavy department, likended to the opening song on Side A. Where the album starts to really get creative is with the next song called, 'IF A GOD CAN BLEED'. It seems more like an experimentation and segway into the following track that explodes. The more I listen to this track, the more I can see why they included it, but it was definitely different. There is almost a country southern twang to it and the lyrics talk about the consequences of power if misused. I like that they tried something different and the ending that links the next song when McCall sings, "If a God can bleed, then I'll bleed you out......just....like....".


"POISOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON..........POISON!!!!!!!!!", 'SOUL BLEACH'. For the heaviness aspect and what most people think of when listening to a metal album, 'SOUL BLEACH' would be the favourite. It is infectious and easy to mosh along with or sing along to. "A little trust is a dangerous thing, it's gonna Kil, kill, kill you if you let it back in". Having the previous song control the slower tempo was perfect in lulling you in before absolutely ripping your head off with this one. One that comes on in the car sometimes and has to be turned down for the children. When they are older, it will be getting turned up to the point the car is shaking.


We are then left with 'STRANGER', which is a weird soundcape track that sounds more like Clown from Slipknot got involved. It sounds cool coming through the speakers and would be another one that would be enhanced by listening to it through headphones. I remember on my first listen that I didn't realise the song had ended and gone into 'LAND OF THE LOST'. I had to look up the tracklisting and confirm that it was more of a link between the heaviness of one song and another. This one is heavy in a different way. It was funny because when I was making the front barricade, I mean front fence, I was digging a LOT. This song has in the lyrics, "keep digging, keep digging the hole down deeper". It made it really easy to dig and I had to remind myself not to dig too deep because of the music.


I tried to choose a song that was my favourite, apart from the singles or what people might thinkg I'd pick. The last track on the album became that pick for me and I love singing along to 'FROM THE HEART OF THE DARKNESS'. It has that slow chugging sound and great vocals to sing along with loudly. I think before they split up as a band that I will have to seem them live again and performing some of their songs from this album. Seeing Gordon drumming on a kit that spins upside down and on fire never gets old either. Had to sing this part as it came on the turntable, "My victory was, my victory was.....Ripped, Ripped. Ripped from the heart of darkness. Torn, Torn, Torn from the torment of the soul". I get the vision that this song has one person splitting into two as they sing, due to inner turmoil. They have moments where they re-gather themself before ripping apart again during the chorus and breakdown. I feel strong and energised after listening to this song and you should feel like that too. The stylus is coming to the end and that lets me know that we have reached the end of another Sunday drop. If you want to check out some more music after listening to this album, look up Spiritbox with their album 'Eternal Blue'.


I hope that Parkway Drive take enough of a break in order to recharge their batteries and come back with an 8th studio album. I understand that they made this album during a time of creative burn out and struggles, but if they can make something this good during those times, imagine what they could make with a 2-3 year rest. Not too long before Christmas and we have a few more drops before we celebrate with some ham, pudding and egg nog. Add some of Parkway Drive's albums to your collections and keep an eye out for new music. Let us know what you are thinking about R'nR with Rylo and if there is anything you'd like us to talk about during our spins. Always up for some creative input or stories.


"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that" - Martin Luther King Jr.


Until our next Spin, be Kind to people doing it tough during this time and be Kind to your Wax!

 

YEAR RELEASED

2022

PRODUCED BY

GEORGE HADJI-CHRISTOU

LABEL

RESIST

PRICE RANGE

$50+AUD

SPEED PLAYED AT

33 1/3 RPM

ALBUM BEFORE

REVERENCE (2018)

ALBUM AFTER

N/A AT TIME OF WRITING

FURTHER LISTENING

ETERNAL BLUE - SPIRITBOX

FAVOURITE SONG

FROM THE HEART OF THE DARKNESS

RATING OUT OF 5

5

WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECORD SLEEVE

1 X OPAQUE RED VINYL, SIGNED LP SIZED ART CARD, LYRICS

Favourite lyric:

"I saw myself so broken that I struggled to reconcile. The one I was with the one in my mind's eye. I picked my bones from the floor and built piece by piece, Fed the fire in my belly into an inferno I must release " ~ From the Heart of the Darkness - Side B 

TRACK LISTING

LP / SIDE

SONG

TRACK LENGTH

​SIDE A

GROUND ZERO

4:09

LIKE NAPALM

3:44


GLITCH

4:21

THE GREATEST FEAR

5:28


DARKER STILL

6:50

SIDE B

IMPERIAL HERETIC

4:50


IF A GOD CAN BLEED

2:40


SOUL BLEACH

3:31


STRANGER

0:50


LAND OF THE LOST

4:59


FROM THE HEART OF THE DARKNESS

5:08



Parkway Drive performing at Knotfest - Sydney 2023









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