Parkway Drive – Deep Blue (2LP)
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The third full-length by Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive finds them changing producers but not their fundamental approach. Where their first two discs were shaped by Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam D., the new one has Joe Barresi behind the boards. He's known for working with progressive-minded artists like Tool, Isis, and Coheed and Cambria, but Parkway Drive are about as un-progressive as you can get. Their downtuned, concussive sound fits right in with peers like Every Time I Die, Bleeding Through, Throwdown, and dozens if not hundreds of other bands. There are some surprises here, some side trips into more serious metal, with vocalist Winston McCall in particular shifting from a snarl not unlike Lamb of God's Randy Blythe to a harsh black metal-influenced shriek. Barresi has filled the low end with booming bass, and the drums are relatively free of the tick-tock triggering that plagues many other metalcore acts; indeed, they sound like they're played by a live human being in a big room, a bit of sonic wizardry many producers seem to have forgotten how to perform. No individual song leaps out, though the delicate voices at the beginning of "Home Is for the Heartless" and the undersea effect that kicks off "Sleepwalker" are cool tricks. Taken as a whole, Deep Blue demonstrates that Parkway Drive are very good at what they do, and just need someone to help them leap out from the pack a little more.