6:00PM Doors | $10 adv | 16+ with ID Wednesday, April 24th After D Read more [...]
Reverence – Epitaph, 2018
When it was time to record the opening track to their sixth album Reverence, Parkway Drive decided to immerse the studio in total darkness. For the Byron Bay, Australia-based metal band, complete lack of light was the only way to truly capture the mood of “Wishing Wells”: a brutally haunting track whose sound frontman Winston McCall accurately describes as “like anvils falling out of a storm cloud.”
“I wanted to feel uncomfortable, so we turned the lights off and got to cranking the heating up, so I was sweating,” says McCall, whose bandmates include guitarists Luke Kilpatrick and Jeff Ling, bassist Jia O’Connor, and drummer Ben Gordon. “The other guys on the other side of the screen couldn’t see us—they would hear the wild takes and then I would walk up to the glass and peer in. It was like an apparition at the glass going, ‘Is that okay?’”
Reverence arrives as the follow-up to 2015’s Ire—Parkway Drive’s most hugely successful album to date and a major force in boosting their ever-growing worldwide following. Like each album released since the band formed in 2002, Ire has been certified gold in their homeland; it also helped fuel their recent dominance at European festivals and won critical praise from outlets like Kerrang (who hailed Ire as a “fascinating album”). But while Ire brought Parkway Drive’s uncompromising artistry to bold new levels, Reverence pushes their creative ambition even further.
“In the past we’ve dipped our toes in with certain concepts and parts—a little strings here and there,” says McCall. “But on this record, we soaked everything in it. When we used strings, we fucking used those strings. When there was singing with melody, we went in completely and made sure we executed it correctly. That goes for all of the stuff we’ve done on Reverence.”
Not only Parkway Drive’s most sonically adventurous album so far, Reverence is also their most personal. With its barrage of heart-shredding anthems, the album was closely informed by a series of tragedies the band’s endured over the past few years, including the untimely loss of two loved ones. “We realized how short and fragile life could be,” says McCall. “We took stock of what we had and realized what actually mattered. What we went through was horrendous.”
Produced by longtime Parkway Drive sound engineer George Hadjichristou and recorded at All Buttons In Recording Studio in Ottawa, Reverence both expands the band’s sonic palette and offers up their most devastating songs yet. To intensify the ominous atmosphere of “Cemetery Bloom,” for instance, Parkway Drive introduced menacing synth lines and opera-esque backing vocals. “Those are probably my favorite lyrics I’ve ever written,” says McCall of “Cemetery Bloom,” a dark-hearted ballad detailing what it’s like to operate as “destroyer” in a relationship. “It sounds like the theme to a battle—one you have to fly over mountains to get to. It’s taking place somewhere on the horizon and when you find yourself in the middle of complete chaos, that’s when you discover exactly what the song is about.”
On tracks like “The Void”—whose refrain of “Welcome to a world of pain” brilliantly embodies the tone of Reverence—Parkway Drive channel their furious energy into thrashing rhythms and ferocious vocal work while delivering deeply infectious melodies. That energy also infuses such songs as the vital and volatile “Prey,” a gang-vocal-driven anthem that unfolds in both punishing riffs and intricate guitar lines.
One of the most wrenching moments on Reverence, closing track “The Colour Of Leaving” was particularly harrowing to record. “I wrote the words wanting them to be as personal as possible, but every time I looked at them I didn’t know whether I could sing it,” says McCall, adding that the lyrics were written in the aftermath of two overwhelming losses. “I did four takes and we had to choose the one where I wasn’t blubbering, where I had my shit together to the best degree by the end of the song. I can’t spit that song out without it not affecting me. It stills does that, I well up every time I hear it.”
Reverence first came to life in Ling’s basement space in 2016, during breaks from Parkway Drive’s rigorous touring schedule. With their determined experimentation sometimes yielding up to 30 versions of the same song, Parkway Drive were especially focused on the character of the vocals. “It 100% didn’t matter whether I was performing the deep scream or screeching the high scream, or sounding tough,” says McCall. “Our attitude was, ‘Does the vocal performance carry character?’ It didn’t have to be pitch-perfect on everything. It didn’t have to sound sweet and great, or nasty. Every single song and moment on the record has to carry character in a genuine way.”
Known for their unstoppable live show—as showcased in releases like the platinum-selling Home Is For The Heartless DVD—Parkway Drive will spend most of the coming year on the road. After touring the U.S. this spring, they’ll head to Europe/UK to headline several major festivals, taking on a massive stage production that includes a spinning drum room and stunning pyrotechnics. The band will then return to the states for their biggest U.S. tour yet, a run to be followed by their mid-autumn tour of Australia. Early next year, Parkway Drive will again bring their awe-inspiring show to Europe/UK and—in a significant step forward for the band—hit arenas all across the continent.
In reflecting on the making of Reverence, Parkway Drive point out that using heartbreak as creative fuel has ultimately had a life-changing impact on the band. “This time there are triumphs that come from swinging a sledgehammer and dealing with real raw emotion,” says McCall. “I hope Reverence is the kind of album that redefines what people expect of us, in the sense that you can now expect the unexpected. This time around we’ve taken more risks, and I don’t think we’ve ever sounded more interesting.”
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE exists deep within the eye of the storm, wielding the thunderous power of the elements like metallic alchemists, touching a nerve with the disenfranchised, and crafting populist anthems that both challenge the status quo and rally those who society casts aside. Across multiple albums, videos, and worldwide tours, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE forged a musical foundation steeped in classic heavy metal, melodic death metal, and early punk/hardcore, and built a following across economic, political, religious, international and social divides.
No matter the climate, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE makes trend-resistant, timeless heavy music that has elevated them to the critical and community status of the greatest of American metal bands. The fiercely individual yet collaboratively resilient New Englanders have also commanded respect and appreciation from all corners. Having shared the stage with acts ranging from Rise Against to Slayer, the diversity and versatility of their touring reach is unparalleled. As headliners on celebrated tours like Ozzfest, Vans Warped Tour, Taste of Chaos, Rockstar Mayhem, and countless international festivals, their influence reigns on a worldwide scale.
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE anthems, singles, and live staples, like “Fixation on the Darkness,” “My Last Serenade,” “A Bid Farewell,” “My Curse,” “Always,” and “In Due Time,” have had staying power and appeal to all generations of metal fans worldwide.
The band’s seventh studio album, INCARNATE, possesses a stack of new KILLSWITCH ENGAGE anthems certain to set the heavy music world ablaze once more. A defiant cry to let go of the past, to keep away from scars that resurface, “Cut Me Loose” will resonate with anyone who struggles with anxiety or depression. “Hate by Design” also challenges our habit of tearing down when we should be building up, while “It Falls On Me” was penned during singer Jesse Leach’s solitary trips into the wilderness, where deep reflection and meditation resulted in the most intense of spiritual yearning. “The Great Deceit” is the heaviest song on the record, a scathing screed against the corruption that exists within government, organized religion, and other institutions. It’s not so much choosing a side as calling “bullshit” across the board, enlivened by the spirit of The Clash and Bad Brains that’s also a vital part of the Killswitch DNA.
“I find myself not in the light and not in the darkness, but dead in the middle, pleading to both sides, trying to find balance and peace,” says the singer, with characteristic honesty and humility. “I haven’t lost my faith, per se. But I’m not swallowing the contradictions or the dogma of everything we were all taught.”
As cofounders of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Adam Dutkiewicz, rhythm guitarist Joel Stroetzel, bassist Mike D’Antonio, and Leach (who returned four years ago after a decade-long absence) together with longtime drummer Justin Foley employ unrelenting determination to continually release powerfully potent work. Ever the technician, Dutkiewicz’s impressive skills as a producer (a discography that includes work with August Burns Red, Every Time I Die, and Parkway Drive) is part and parcel of the KILLSWITCH sound. Foley’s power and dexterity has been evident since he first emerged in the band Blood Has Been Shed. In addition to his undeniable stage presence and rhythmic heft, D’Antonio works behind the scenes most of the band’s cover artwork, merchandise, and web presence. Stroetzel is the most dyed-in-the-wool metalhead of the bunch.
Leach wears his heart on his sleeve like never before, coming out of the experience of making INCARNATE a brand new person. It’s an album of reclamation and redefinition, from a band that still rules the scene.
Leach sounds more confident and inspired than ever on INCARNATE. But this was no easy feat to achieve. He came back into the band he cofounded after the writing process for Disarm the Descent was largely finished. The band was quickly on the road behind the well-received album. Following the long touring process, Leach was determined to put a definitive stamp on this new album.
“I really wanted to make sure that where I was at in my life was really represented properly on the record. I took a couple weeks to just soul search. I fell into a bit of a depression and because of that I came up with some pretty dark stuff,” he confesses. “By the time the record was done, I realized I’d changed. I was a different person. That has never happened to me before with a record.”
The closest he’d come to this type of transformative experience was with Times Of Grace, the project where he first reconnected with Dutkiewicz after years of estrangement. The record the pair made together under that moniker reignited their electric songwriting and their honest give-and-take in the studio.
“Jesse is a very passionate dude with a lot of things to say,” notes his longtime friend and collaborator. “Vocal tracking is probably my favorite part of the recording process. We’d end up having deep conversations about life, politics, religion. The kind of conversations old friends might have over a cup of coffee.”
Leach pins much of the creative confidence of INCARNATE on the band’s defiance of compromise. “As a creative individual I refuse to phone in anything. I refuse to let stuff slide. I don’t care about deadlines or the business side of things,” he says. “If we don’t deliver a record that’s got our souls on it, then we’re doing ourselves a total disservice. And we’d be doing our fans a disservice, too.”
All of it has kept them enveloped in the most excitingly relevant pop culture touchstones of any given era since, ever since they formed back in 1999.
Alive or Just Breathing (2002) was certified silver in the United Kingdom as were The End of Heartache (2004) and As Daylight Dies (2006), both of which were certified gold in the United States for sales in excess of a half million copies. Each of the band’s most recent albums, Killswitch Engage (2009) and Disarm the Descent (2013), debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 Albums chart.
INCARNATE arrives as one of Rolling Stone’s Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2016. “Strength of Mind” premiered via postmodern content network and powerhouse brand Nerdist, even as the band graced the cover of Revolver in Star Wars regalia, just before The Force Awakens smashed box office records. This is nothing new for KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. They’ve always been present in the heart of the culture with invitations to contribute to HBO’s Game of Thrones, WWE, God of War, Guitar Hero, Resident Evil, and even Freddy vs. Jason.
Two Grammy nominations, three Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards, and two Boston Music Awards are just a small part of the fruit of their labor. The real evidence of the band’s impact lies in their fiercely devoted fans around the world.
The reckless abandon of creative passion, the search for higher truths and personal justice, and the authentic reality of the duality within all people – the light, the dark, the playful, the deadly – these are the components that comprise KILLSWITCH. They are the elements of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, INCARNATE.