After releasing three very well-received full-length albums and two of the most awe-inspiring DVDs, the lovable Parkway Drive is back at it. Their fourth album, the aptly titled Atlas, is set to release on October 30th via Epitaph Records. An atlas is full of maps, charts and designs – nearly everything imaginable – and this album acts the same way in that it has everything you could ask for in a metalcore release.
Parkway Drive's previous release, Deep Blue, saw the band experiment with a few things and they've done so even more on Atlas. Whether it be the female clean vocals heard on "The River," the acoustically-driven "Atlas" with an addition of another string instrument (maybe a violin), or the epic "WHOA" chants and tapping guitar riffs on "Wild Eyes," there was something that surprised me on every track. Not only is Atlas surprising, but it is an absolute work of art and everything fits exceptionally well.
Atlas is full of surprises at nearly every turn, but there is still a fair share of the Parkway Drive style that fans should be more than familiar with. "Old Ghosts/New Regrets" has been floating around on YouTube as a live video for about eight months, and it's one of the tracks that sounds like it could be on the B-side of Deep Blue. "Dark Days" and "Sleight of Hand" also put off a bit of a Deep Blue vibe, while "Swing" sounds very similar to most of the material on Horizons.
The drumming is very fast-paced and extremely tight throughout the 48-minute Atlas, but it is particularly impressive on "Wild Eyes," "Swing" and "Snake Oil and Holy Water". Another thing that is more than solid is the guitar riffs and basslines. Spine-chilling melodies can be heard on nearly every track, but most notably "Wild Eyes," "The River" and "The Slow Surrender." Two of those tracks ("Wild Eyes" and "The River") are my personal favourites on the album, and I think that many people will feel the same way. "Wild Eyes" is one of the most spectacular metalcore songs to ever grace my ears and "The River" is nearly on the same level. Moreover, "The River" could be likened to "Idols And Anchors" because it has a similar intro and a culminating outro solo.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect on Atlas is the vocals. Winston has always been an extremely talented vocalist that puts so much force into his vocals, but they are even more monstrous on Atlas than they have ever been before. Furthermore, the lyrics are incredible, yet again. One of my favourite lyrics can be heard on "The River" when Winston screams "It's not the years in your life; it's the life in your years." In addition to Winston's spectacular lyrics and vocals, there are several gang chants that add even more power to the album and guest vocals that do the complete opposite, yet still fit perfectly.
Coming from an avid fan of Parkway Drive that had extremely high expectations for the band's new release, Atlas exceeded my expectations and silenced every minor doubt that I had in the back of my mind. By far, it is the most diverse Parkway Drive album, and for many metal fans – myself included – it could go down in history as one of the best metalcore albums, alongside Parkway Drive's Horizons. This band is clearly in it for the long run and I'm excited to hear (or see) what they come up with next.