Parkway Drive + Despised Icon + Winds of Plague @ Manchester Academy, 26th April 2010

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Byron Bay’s Parkway Drive have been storming their way through the hardcore scene for some time now but have only recently started to make a major impression in the UK. Tonight’s packed house at Manchester’s Academy confirms that they have now truly arrived and they deliver a set which more than seals the deal.

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First though we have some immense support bands to get the rowdy crowd well and truly warmed up. Winds of Plague obviously have a huge following in the house who have been waiting for them to hit the UK for a long time and they don’t disappoint. Furious guitar playing and a sound which combines their many influences into something unique and heavy as hell. Touring in support of last year’s “The Great Stone War’, let’s hope they don’t eave it too long before heading back to our shores.

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Despised Icon’s performance is very much a bittersweet affair. After years on the road, the Canadians are finally building a large and loyal following for their brutal brand of deathcore. So it’s somewhat untimely that the band have announced this will be their final tour before disbanding. Their pummelling tunes divide the crowd a little but, for me, they are just incredible. Drummer Alexandre Pelletier’s playing could be described as Animal from the Muppets crossed with the Terminator! Ferocious, faster than any other drummer I can think of, yet ultra-precise. It’s something to witness.

Vocals come courtesy of Alexandre Erian, who provides the hardcore-influenced screams, and Steve Marois, who makes the sort of noises abattoir workers have nightmares about. Standout tracks tonight include the epic “In The Arms Of Perdition” and “MVP” as they’re joined for one final assault by Winds Of Plague vocalist Johnny Plague before bidding us “Au revoir” for the last time.

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Not many bands could follow the sonic assault on the senses that is Despised Icon, but Aussies Parkway Drive don’t look at all worried as they amble onstage full of smiles before bursting into the aptly titles “Begin”. From thereon in it’s a non-stop whirlwind of sound, moving from fast-as-hell riffage, to melodic Judas Priest-esque dualling guitars and brutal beatdowns, all of which whip the crowd into a ball of sweaty, writhing bodies and crowd-surfers.

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Crowd-pleaser “Smoke ‘Em If Ya Got “em” is followed by the soaring “Carrion” which is introduced as “a slow one” by frontman, Winston McCall. Only by Parkway Drive standards is this “a slow one” but it does bring the tempo down a little before the ferocious attack of “Guns For Show, Knives For Pro” gets the pit slamming once again. The band themselves don’t stand still for a second either, running from one side of the stage to the other and jumping from the monitors in between.

The majestic “Horizons” ends the main set and there’s just time for the blistering stomp of “Romance Is Dead” to bring things to a fitting end.

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On tonight’s performance it’s easy to see why Parkway Drive are taking the metal/hardcore world by storm and their rise looks sure to continue. It’s encouraging to see a band with such a non-mainstream sound getting to play such big venues in the UK and, with a new album just around the corner, let’s hope they return soon and add Birmingham to their next UK tour.

Begin
Boneyards
Idols and Anchors
Smoke ’em if ya Got ’em
Carrion
Guns for Show, Knives for a Pro
Mutiny
Unrest
Dead Man’s Chest
The Sirens’ Song
Horizons
Encore:
Romance is Dead

Review & Photos – Steve Gerrard

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