Review: Joseph Di-Forenza
Photos: Andrew Basso

The atmosphere in Melbourne was literally electrically charged as a crowd gathered and formed a line at Margaret Court Arena to witness Byron Bay metalcore giants Parkway Drive support their sixth studio album ‘Reverence’.

Clouds gathered overhead and thunder rumbled in the distance, providing the perfect tapestry for a night of phenomenal heavy music.

First to grace the stage is Sydney legends Thy Art Is Murder. The audience slowly trickled in through multiple doors as the band blasted out their first couple of songs with near flawless precision. CJ McMahon’s vocals soared out above the heads in the mosh pit and reverberated through the arena.

Special focus is drawn to tight, uniform rhythms with this band, and Lee Stanton’s drumming is the driving force behind this. So frequent and powerful are these unison sections that when the band does break into a more polyrhythmic section it is even more impactful as a result. The band as a whole exuded the typical laidback style of Australian showmanship and as an aside the lighting was exceptional considering they were the opening act. Overall a great set.

When Killswitch Engage began their set, at first I was concerned that it may be an off night for vocalist Jesse Leach; his vocals being somewhat off-pitch during the cleaner sung sections. These concerns were put to rest however by the third or fourth song, leading me to believe he just needed to warm up.

The guitar sounds from Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel were absolutely huge throughout the set, and the overall flow was phenomenal. The tight, fast verses and instrumental sections punctuated massive choruses lent themselves to great dynamics.

A slight distraction came halfway through the set in the form of a punter atop the catwalk that runs along the roof and houses the spotlights, the crowd watched on as he removed his top, danced and eventually got removed by security. A great set delivered by veterans of their genre.

From the minute Parkway Drive’s intro track began, the atmosphere in the arena was lifted an even greater level.  They opened with Wishing Wells, the leading single from Reverence, and immediately they demonstrated why they deserve to be playing an arena. They’ve mastered their particular type of metalcore with massive anthemic choruses. This continued on through Prey, Carrion and Vice Grip.  It’s worth mentioning just how huge the band’s sound was, the guitars in particular were dialed in for the perfect tone and used in an absolutely crushing way by Luke Kilpatrick and Andy Marsh (Thy Art is Murder, filling in for Jeff Ling) during Dedicated. On the other hand, during newer songs like Absolute Power and Cemetery BloomJia O’Connor and Ben Connor would display their skill at locking in wish each other and laying down that groove.

 

Next up the band delivered yet another cut from their latest record. ‘The Void’ riled the audience up even further as vocalist Winston McCall continuously intensified his stagecraft and showmanship. Often shouting all the way to the back and demanding involvement. This was true tenfold for the next two songs, which is where the band dived into it’s back catalogue to pull out ‘Idols and Anchors’ and ‘Karma’ in quick succession. Both of these tracks held testament to Winston’s ability to still deliver his older style of screamed vocals. (Having since mellowed down to a growl on newer albums.) The latter of these two tracks also stand out because the band stopped during the intro to demand a larger circle pit. In fact, they wanted the entire standing area to be one giant circle pit. The most surprising aspect of this scenario was that it actually happened and it looked incredible.

The five-piece then took it down a notch with my personal favourite Writings on the Wall. It was clear at this point that the show was heading to a more theatrical an epic conclusion then we expected when a string quartet stepped out to perform with the band as they stepped onto platforms that raised and shot lights into our faces. The smoke machines were working at full pelt here and the band firing on all cylinders. The string quartet remained onstage for Shadow Boxing, where we got our one and only instance of proper clean vocals from Winston. And before we knew it the band had blasted through Wild Eyes and taken their leave.

But of course, it wasn’t over, and after some cheering for more, pyrotechnics laid fire along the stage on multiple planes. The light from these flames alone illuminated the band members faces as they launched into Crushed. Most impressive here however was the fact that Ben’s drum riser contraption began spinning in circles and he didn’t miss a beat even whilst upside down.

They eventually close out the night with fan favourite and undeniable pit-anthem Bottom Feeder allowing every single body in the arena one final chance to let loose before heading back into the world.

TICKETS FOR THIS EPIC TOUR CAN BE FOUND RIGHT HERE!