REVIEW: Parkway Drive – ‘Ire’

Parkway Drive Ire

Artist: Parkway Drive
Album: Ire
Label: Epitaph

There is still hope for (hard) rock and roll.

Parkway Drive have long proven themselves to be an international force for the continued betterment of the hard rock and metal music scenes. Having first risen through the ranks of their native Australia, the five-piece quickly earned a global following with their unique brand of unabashed brutality, with vocalist Winston McCall pouring his life through the microphone. The band’s storytelling evolved as their sound matured, but by 2012’s Atlas the band had reached something of a plateau. The anthems of brotherhood and self-improvement were not hitting as hard as before, but there was something to the whole affair that felt a bit too familiar for its own good.

Ire, the fifth album in the band’s growing catalog, is exactly the release Parkway Drive needed at this point in their career. It’s a bold and brash reinvention that finds the band taking every element of their sound to a new level, including the vocals of McCall. Epitaph reportedly invested in a talent coach to help the frontman better his talent, and the results are present on every minute of Ire. The music has matured further as well, bringing together elements of rock, metal, punk and just a dash of everything in between to create a tough, yet inviting sound. “Bottom Feeder,” for example, offers both the heaviest and catchiest song on the record. When McCall urges listeners to “Snap your neck to this” ahead of the song’s bridge the only choice you have is to comply. It’s that good.

It’s not just about the music on this release, and I suppose it never is when you’re discussing Parkway Drive. Their earliest records felt deeply personal, telling of relationships gone awry and the struggle to make one’s own way in a broken world. The band found something special in the decision to write music meant to inspire, and they focused their writing on subsequent releases. That push to alert others to their own potential remains on Ire, but it’s surrounded by harsh commentary on global economics, politics and numerous hot button topics in between. The members of Parkway Drive have witnessed an entire generation being enslaved by Big Brother, and here they challenge our oppressor to come at them with everything they’ve got. Parkway Drive won’t fall on bended knee to worship any false idol, and they’ve made it a point to ensure none of their fans do either. That is the motivation that fuels much of Ire, and it makes for an invigorating listening experience.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that some will hear the latest evolution of Parkway Drive and call foul, but that is to be expected whenever a prominent artist decides to change. The truth of the matter is that Ire is not only the most dynamic and lyrically impressive release in Parkway Drive’s catalog, but it’s also the record with the most potential for mainstream crossover success. This is showcased perhaps best on “Vice Grip,” which mashes the group’s heavy elements with a soaring chorus that compels those listening to sing along. “Crushed,” another early cut, blends elements of Rage Against The Machine into the band’s signature sound. It’s a move that might come as a shock at first, but it’s also perhaps the most exciting moment on the entire album.

While I believe there is still room to grow, Parkway Drive have taken several impressive leaps forward with Ire. From beginning to end, the album plays like a cry for revolution that is urging an entire generation of lost souls to find the strength to better themselves. If not for their own benefit, then for that of their fellow man. Parkway Drive see the world as a global community, and on this release they address the planet as a whole. The results are heavy, infectious and potentially life-changing. Do not miss this record.

SCORE: 9/10

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • msx

    I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews (Sputnikmusic, for instance) which I don’t understand at all. Yeah, “Ire” is a departure from what they’ve been doing so far but by itself it’s a very solid album and I love it.

  • AlbinoRhino

    I am pissed at iTunes because my pre-order wouldn’t download this morning but the 5 songs I do have (Vice Grip, Crushed, Fractures, Bottom Feeder and The Sound of Violence) are pretty damn good. I really want to hear the rest of the album.

  • Miranda Fox

    I also read the Sputnikmusic review. I have listened to Ire multiple times now, and although I like it, I don’t love it as much as KWAS or Horizons, or even Deep Blue for that matter. The new vocal styles could have been backed by more melodic sounds or breakdowns to keep this album on the same level as previous ones. Parkway Drive is my favourite band out there and Ire left me wanting more.

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