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Parkway Drive - "Killing With A Smile" (CD)

Parkway Drive - "Killing With A Smile" CD cover image

"Killing With A Smile" track listing:

1. Gimme A D
2. Anasasis (Xenophontis)
3. Pandora
4. Romance Is Dead
5. Guns For Show, Knives For A Pro
6. Blackout
7. Picture Perfect, Pathetic
8. It's Hard To Speak Without A Tongue
9. Mutiny
10. Smoke 'Em If Ya Got 'Em
11. A Cold Day In Hell

Reviewed by on September 5, 2006

"refreshing in a market saturated with mediocrity."

Mixing characteristics of both metalcore and hardcore, Parkway Drive sound uncannily like something you've heard before and yet simultaneously unlike most bands of either genre. Brutal and catchy, you almost feel as though you already know the songs despite having never heard the band before. While the band has a bit to learn yet, their rapidly-built, extensive fan-base suggests that they are definitely doing something, if not a lot of things, right.

The album opener, "Gimme A D", is one of the better tracks on the band's debut, intertwining melody with raw energy. Unfortunately, this doesn't continue throughout, as Parkway Drive keep their focus squarely on crushing riffs and growling, furious vocals. "Romance Is Dead" features the best breakdown of the album, though many of them are not particularly noteworthy. There are times within the album that are so cheesy it's almost comical. The lyrical outburst in "Romance Is Dead" right after the breakdown, though impeccably timed, needs some serious re-thinking (or at the very least, re-wording), as does the beginning of "Mutiny", where an excerpt from the overly-popular movie 'Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl' is heard. "Smoke 'Em If Ya Got 'Em" is taken directly from Parkway's previous EP, Don't Close Your Eyes, and has been lathered with better recording and tighter musicianship, due to it's standing title as a crowd-favourite.

If there is anything critical to be said of "Killing With A Smile," it is about the lyrics. Too often, hardcore crosses over into emo territory, and the lyrical offerings of this album have a propensity towards angst and emotional hardships. While it's nothing compared to acts such as Grinspoon or My Chemical Romance, it would be great to see Parkway give lyrical consideration to topics more traditionally "metal." I would also like to see the drums come forth and become a bigger part of the production, as they have rarely been given the chance to stand out this time 'round, and are often unrecognisable under the tumultuous bass and attention-grabbing guitars.

"Killing With A Smile" contends a vocalist many -core genre bands would give their collective left arms for with fast-paced guitars and a brutal, bass-lead sound. It works. The songs, which are a typical three to four minutes in length, blend into one another, giving the album a feeling of fullness, leaving one nodding along constantly, almost unaware that a good half hour has passed them. Even though influences from bands such as Killswitch Engage and Soilwork are hidden in plain view, Parkway Drive are refreshing in a market saturated with mediocrity.

Highs: A good indication of where the metalcore and hardcore genres will be going in the future, and the band has arguably one of the better vocalists of either genre.

Lows: Lyrical work needs improvement, as do the breakdowns.

Bottom line: If you're a fan of the -core genres, pick this album up. If you're not a fan, give it a listen before you buy it.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)