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Parkway Drive's UK Tour Underlines Their Readiness as Festival Headliners

Friday, 14 October 2022 Written by Jon Stickler

Many metalheads may think Iron Maiden and Metallica are what make our world go round, but the anthems and stage shows from the revered OGs have become aged, tired and bloated in recent times. In a scene where most of the commercial success is still being hoarded by older icons, is it time for festivals to listen to the clamour for a fresh new headliner to be elevated to the major leagues?

Two bands creating some of the most exciting heavy sounds right now are While She Sleeps and Parkway Drive, and their recent tour together stands as a persuasive argument for them to be given a shot at topping the bill at events such as Download, having already proven their worth at Wacken a few years ago.

Having already toured their asses off, this new arena run finds Parkway Drive finally wearing their status as a huge deal, taking their rep as one of the best live acts in metal and using it to underpin the confidence required to pull off shows of this scale. Following a killer support set from While She Sleeps at the Cardiff leg, which you could almost mistake for their own headline show, they display the chops and nous that has helped their metalcore sound move from run-down youth hall jams into titanic, flame-filled, arena-ready magic.

While this isn’t their first shot at venues of this size, this tour still feels like the biggest milestone in their career so far. There's a lot of pressure on the five-piece to get these shows right and cement their current status as something that can be built upon in future.

As the lights go down, the band's opening intro video is accompanied by flaming torch-bearing figures, clad in hoods, who appear among massive metal spikes that adorn the imposing three-tiered stage. The band walk out and smash into Glitch for the first mosh pits of the night, and as introductions go, they’re not fucking around.

Hurling themselves across the stage, surrounded by sparks and explosions that wouldn’t look out of place as part of Rammstein’s flamethrower-flinging pyro display, the kingsize beatdown continues with Prey and Carrion. The enormity of Vice Grip and Ground Zero speaks for itself, with the band primarily sticking to 2022’s ‘Darker Still’, 2018’s ‘Reverence’ and 2015’s ‘Ire’ for the bulk of the set.

Frontman Winston McCall prowls the front of the stage’s walkway, clad in a white vest and cargos, bringing chills with an intense and commanding performance. The Void, Karma, and the fiery riff-laden groove of The Greatest Fear follow, as well as a handful of costume changes for McCall for good measure. A massive-sounding Shadow Boxing and the slow-burning ballad Darker Still see the band joined by a string quartet, adding another flourish of visually arresting theatrics to proceedings.

While critics might whinge about seeing their former hardcore heroes reducing themselves to such practices, the fact is that Parkway Drive are now a huge band and are, quite fairly, prioritising the spectacle of their show over and above anything else. Shout and stamp your feet all you want: the dramatics that accompany this performance transform the gig far beyond a musical experience.

It’s a fact that’s hammered home when Jeff Ling delivers the cleanest of lead guitar work while raised on an elevated platform during the extravagant climax to the sombre title track of their new album. It's surely a first for any band to come out of Australia who aren’t called AC/DC.

Off the back of a divisive album that they went through hell to make, this current incarnation of Parkway Drive has adapted and morphed into a legitimately undeniable force in the current heavy music landscape. The blood and thunder breakdowns on Bottom Feeder, and the flame-laden heaviness of Crushed, pops off one last bouncing mosh pit, as thousands scream “Crushed by the fist of god!” at larynx-shredding volume. 

Save for a few momentary lulls in intensity, Parkway Drive sign it all off with phenomenal assurance and stage presence. They’ve clearly pulled out all the stops to live up to the standards expected from the upper echelons of massive arena-metal bands. It’s amazing to think that their upward trajectory may still not have hit its peak yet, either.


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