Metal can be a funny old game. If Parkway Drive had come charging out the dugout 12 years ago sounding like this, chances are they would have been eyed with suspicion, given six out of 10 for effort, and a biscuit to go with their tea. However, because they have 10 years of quote-unquote “proper” metal behind them, the pitch is theirs to command, high-tackles, handballs and all, and anything they do that is a bit “out there” is now granted a lot more time than some Johnny-come-lately. Increased age, experience, audience and tolerance obviously play a huge role in this, but most of all it comes down to respect, something metal bands have always had to earn, and something Parkway have scored again and again in recent years, meaning that the risks taken on Reverence make a whole lot of sense, and equate to a whole lot of yes.
Less blood-lusty than Ire, but as a consequence way more menacing, Reverence is an album that stalks and toys with the listener, swiping at choice moments and wearing its quarry down until victory is inevitable rather than slicing and dicing with razor-sharp frenzied abandon. That same King 810 vibe that launches lead single and album opener Wishing Wells creeps in throughout the album, frontman Winston McCall harnessing his napalm roar into a spoken-word growl of pure vengeance on tracks like the haunting Cemetery Bloom and icy album closer The Colour of Leaving, but despite some inevitable worries, it’s a trick that really suits them, arguably better than the unintelligible thug-chug metalcore with which they made their name. That old school vibe is still present at correct, most notably in the disappointing by-numbers In Blood, but when the band flex their creative muscles, the results are routinely brilliant, for example thunderous Ronseal-does-what-it-says-on-the-tin anthem Absolute Power; the papal chant-laden I Hope You Rot, which throws Iron Maiden-shaped dance moves all over Kvelertak’s twitching corpse; and Shadow Boxing, with its quick-fire rap-attack beatdown delivery, destined to level venues from Byron Bay to the Bay of Biscay.
Modern metal for a modern audience that more than lives up to the hype, Reverence is a bold addition to Parkway’s legacy, and while it may not quite elevate them to the festival headliner slot many had hoped, it is more than enough to justify and eternally solidify their spot at the top of the second stage, and with a couple of performances that put the headliners to shame, who knows?