Parkway Drive

support Architects + Thy Art Is Murder
author PP date 28/01/16 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

A menacing package of modern core was on the menu tonight at Store Vega. We're told to arrive early to clear Vega's restrictive security policy in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, but unlike at a recent Bring Me The Horizon concert, flowing everyone into the venue proves not to be an issue tonight. With upstairs closed, the venue is only 70% full by a rough estimation, which is somewhat surprising considering how much success Parkway Drive have enjoyed in recent years and the stacked lineup. Nonetheless, it is a credit to the transcendence of metalcore to the mainstream via Bring Me The Horizon's success that tonight's show takes place in Store Vega rather than Lille Vega, which would've been the case only a few years ago.

Thy Art Is Murder

Thy Art Is Murder

Thy Art Is Murder visited Denmark two years ago as a part of the Copenhell lineup and demonstrated a tendency for devastating breakdowns and senseless brutality throughout their set. The same applies tonight: the performance begins with humongous breakdowns supplementing the already brutal low-end growl of touring vocalist Nick Arthur, who replaced CJ McMahon in December when he quit the band in a much criticized public statement about the cost of touring. Arthur has a similar growling style as CJ, perhaps even more brutal, so from a fan's perspective not much has changed. His performance style mimics that of Tommy Rogers of Between The Buried And Me with grand hand gestures projecting his imposing form on stage, fitting well with the ongoing brutality on stage. The second song "Coffin Dragger" opens a circle pit immediately in the somewhat scarce crowd in direct response to the rapid fire blast beats and guitar pummeling on stage. Circular headbangs by the band are mirrored by the front rows headbanging, whilst the remainder of the crowd is content to merely watch in intrigue as the band's monstrous deathcore marks one of the heaviest soundscapes we've witnessed in Store Vega, probably ever.

Thy Art Is Murder

The stage is drenched in ominous dark red and dark green lighting against a huge Parkway Drive banner that pushes the band to just a meter or two of space on stage, but it's fitting and helps craft an even more imposing brutality vibe than the music itself. "I know some of you guys know the words, let me hear you scream them", Arthur shouts just before "Reign of Darkness", and rightly so, there's a brief a capella moment in the song where a surprisingly loud gang chant echoes across the Store Vega hall. Surprising, considering Thy Art Is Murder are the opening act, but "Reign Of Darkness" is a staple in the deathcore scene and has garnered almost six million YouTube views for its video. An impromptu wall of death forms, and judging from the crowd activity, the front rows are having a blast. It's just that the band's monotone breakdowns and static stand-still appearance on stage is not particularly interesting. They finish off a set of senseless deathcore brutality with "Holy War", which has been a lesson in how to sound heavy as fuck, but one where we long for more interesting songwriting.

Architects

Architects

Now, compared to Thy Art Is Murder, Architects compositional abilities seem almost godlike in comparison. All but one track tonight is off new album "Lost Forever // Lost Together", a career masterpiece where they finally nailed the post-hardcore heroics fittingly to their metalcore sound. It's a fresh, innovative sound that's easily accessible yet provides enough longevity and depth for long-term listening, and that's probably also why the sing-alongs begin straight off with opening track "Grave Digger". The crowd response is fantastic, certainly worthy of a headlining slot, and so is the band's stage demeanor. Vocalist Sam Carter is actively pacing the stage and jumping around frantically, yet managing to nail all melodies almost exactly as they are on record. "The Devil Is Near" is dedicated to Sea Shepherd; a floor-wide circle pit quickly opens, thus mirroring the energetic performance on stage.

Architects

Architects have brought their own lights tonight, which double as thick laser-like blasters and moving focus lights that add a great ambiance to their stage presence that's just not achievable with the standard Vega lights. "Colony Collapse" resembles Alexisonfire with its scream/clean dynamics, and quickly becomes a personal favorite of yours truly tonight due to its anthemic, back-chilling melody. "Hey, you big guy. Near the stage. Life's too short. Life is too short", carter interrupts after the song in order to break up a scrap up front, the crowd response with a sea of applause for handling the situation like a pro. "Naysayer" has the entire crowd on their feet bouncing up and down like a trampoline, and the band capitalizes on every ounce of the crowd energy to stir us into a further frenzy. On stage, they are in constant movement, whether headbanging or jumping and generally own a commanding stance full of charisma that doesn't allow anyone to stand still. Couple that with brilliant songs, and we've got a very solid set overall.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Gravedigger
  • 2. Broken Cross
  • 3. The Devil Is Near
  • 4. Dead Man Talking
  • 5. Colony Collapse
  • 6. Castles in the Air
  • 7. Naysayer
  • 8. C.A.N.C.E.R
  • 9. These Colours Don't Run

Parkway Drive

Parkway Drive have become a metalcore institution to the effect that you can't mention metalcore as a genre and not include them in the discussion somehow. Their new album "Ire" is an entirely different beast, leading the band towards a simplified arena metal format similar to Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed and others like them. But when you're playing bigger stages and starting to climb up on festival posters, you arguably need songs that can fill the bigger spaces. We'll come back to that later.

Parkway Drive

Tonight, it's clear we're dealing with a massive production. First, the band's shadow figures are projected against a massive Parkway Drive banner, which drops down the moment the song has its first break. Then there's the light show, which starts with a flurry of pink lights for "Dying To Believe", follows through with a wide variety of colours and impressively styled effects during the show, and finishes in demonically red, imposing lighting for "Crushed" during the encore. Moreover, the band's showmanship is excellent and clearly fine-tuned to work on arena-sized stages. Frontman Winston McCall orchestrates the crowd with exaggerated movements and knows exactly when to fire off activity-inducing lines at us. "Fists in the fucking air", he shouts for "Dark Days", where the crowd responds with a mass sing-along. There's a bone shattering breakdown that bruises the mosh-pitters in devastating fashion, before "Deliver Me" has everyone jumping up and down. The dynamic has been awesome so far: older highlight "Carrion" sees a huge sing-along, and "Karma" transforms the crowd into circle pit madness from the get-go.

Parkway Drive

And here's where "Vice Grip" from the new album arrives with its arena metal properties as mentioned earlier. McCall explains that the song is about positivity and how that feeling is rare these days, and we all sing along to the radio-friendly "yeeeeah, yeeeah-yeah" parts from the top of our lungs. On record, the song is somewhat cheesy, but it works really well on a big stage like this one. Older song "Idols And Anchors" counters with another set of huge "wooh, woah-woah, wooh" sing-alongs to the tune of the guitar melodies, and "Wild Eyes" has the exact same effect. So yeah, we're pretty much singing along all night.

Parkway Drive

Of course, there are the heavier tracks, such as "Dedicated", to which Winston stirs up the crowd by shouting "If anyone came to move tonight....this is our heaviest song!" . Yep, this is how to fire Vega up to a frenzy. The great crowd dynamic continues with Winston offering us a choice between "Bottom Feeder" and "Romance Is Dead", where they end up playing both anyway after having the crowd vote on which one they'd like to hear more. "Bottom Feeder" is aired first with a bounce-along fest in the crowd; the decade-old "Romance Is Dead" has crowd surfers giving security a headache. Here, Winston shouts "Let's see how your memory is!", and surely enough the crowd responds with sing along once again. Only, this time, it's a resigned one, and the reason for that is clear: the old material by Parkway Drive is unforgivably generic metalcore, and it is only on recent albums they have shown an ability to innovate instead of being a derivative clone band that they start out as being. "Swing" also sees a decreased crowd activity, marking these two as arguably the weakest tracks onthe setlist tonight. They also drain the energy from the crowd almost completely, so once the encore arrives with "Crushed" and "Home Is For The Heartless", the atmosphere in the venue is a far cry from the sublime energetic party vibe that existed midway through their set. Had Parkway Drive kept up the consistency for the entire set, the grade could be somewhat higher. For now, the disappointing final four songs or so drag the rating down a notch.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Destroyer
  • 2. Dying To Belive
  • 3. Carrion
  • 4. Karma
  • 5. Dark Days
  • 6. Deliver Me
  • 7. Vice Grip
  • 8. Idols And Anchors
  • 9. Dedicated
  • 10. Wild Eyes
  • 11. Bottom Feeder
  • 12. Romance Is Dead
  • 13. Swing
  • --encore
  • 14. Crushed
  • 15. Home Is For The Heartless

Photos by: Peter Troest

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