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Gig Review: Parkway Drive + supports, Melbourne

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Parkway Drive + Thy Art Is Murder + Memphis May Fire + The Word Alive
Festival Hall, Melbourne
26 September 2015
Review by Alex Sievers
Photo by Sofie Marsden

It’s been four about years since The Word Alive played in Australia, and despite their small fan base, the quintet really put their all into their half hour set. Especially singer Tyler ‘Telle’ Smith, who also had one of the dirtiest screams of the night by far. Opening a bill of this size is hard, and yet the metalcore outfit did the very best they could, and they showed why they’ve come this far; the amount of sheer energy they channel into their live performances, which materialized into a wall of death towards the end of their set. Next up Memphis May Fire and during their set, I suddenly realised what I don’t like about them.

First, while they’re live show is solid; I find their songs go for too long. Very nitpicky I know, but when you’re music is already pretty damn generic, it becomes a big chore to get through when each song sounds so similar and goes for almost four and a half minutes per track. Second, and I’m going to be that guy now, but I much preferred it when the band carried that ‘Southern twang’ and rambunctious vibe of their first EP and debut album, Sleepwalking. Now we go from the least heavy to the heaviest, from one extreme to the other in the form of Thy Art Is Murder.

Now, if you don’t know who this band is, then A) don’t talk to me, and B) rectify your grave life mistake now. The Sydney five-piece sent the crowd into overdrive immediately when they opened with what is arguably their seminal track, Reign Of Darkness, which created moshing of all degrees and extremes in every direction of the floor area. The band’s rather short but crushing set showed the uninitiated in attendance that their insanely brutal death metal sound translates superbly from the record to the stage.

Halfway through their set, Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall joined his tour mates on stage for Coffin Dragger, much like he does on the new album, Holy War. However, when McCall began his part of the song, his lines weren’t heard through the PA. Someone forgot to bring a fader up methinks. Despite that incident, there weren’t any other technical issues (from what I could tell) and everything else went buttery smooth. Furthermore, that song also had one of the most brutal circle pits that I’ve ever been in to date (hey, any excuse to go for a run). Case in point: a friend of mine got knocked right out during it. Brutal, but that’s the way it goes with Thy Art Is Murder.

Three down, one to go.

The giant banner overlooking the stage, with the title of Parkway’s latest– Ire – blazed across it in bold red letters dwarfed the stage from the show’s very beginning, and from the very second that it dropped in Destroyer, and the confetti and streamers went flying, the band tipped the crowd’s frenzy levels from 10 over to 11. With a commanding stage presence, a huge sound, an electrifying atmosphere, and a stage production that rivaled that of stadium gigs, Parkway had the dedicated crowd eating out of the palm of their hands.

Now, while Ire has been polarizing for the, shall we say, “die-hard fans”, I don’t feel shat on or cheated by the band’s slight change in direction. Quite the opposite, in fact, as I feel spoiled by the new record as I feel it’s easily one of their better albums. Controversial, I know.

New songs, like the breakneck Dying To Believe, Crushed and the “controversial” lead single, Vice Grip were just lapped up by the fans throughout Festival hall. Everyone around me was singing the new songs back to the band as loud as they were for Carrion and Romance Is Dead, if not louder. There have only been two other occasions I can think of where a band’s newest material was received this well: Slipknot at Soundwave this year and Enter Shikari’s headline tour in May.

With a solid 15 song set list of the old and the new, Parkway Drive absolutely slayed their first Melbourne show in almost two years. This show also made me realise something; I have never, ever, gone to seen Parkway Drive live and left afterwards thinking ‘Yeah, you know what? Parkway were shit tonight’.


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