Parkway Drive @ Nottingham Arena, 31 January 2019

On a cold night in Nottingham, we visit a pretty big venue for acts of this genre and people arrived in their flocks to see this one.

The Australian deathcore band Thy Art Is Murder were first in line to tackle the crowd. With frontman CJ stating early on, ‘For the next 30 minutes, you all belong to me, if you don’t like that then fuck off,’ giggles of agreement murmured around the loyal fans.

Sharp piercing palm mutes and deep, convincing growled lyrics from CJ proved to be a little to heavy for some who remained outside drinking and smoking, but was great to see in such a big venue. Seeing this music, which strongly resembles death metal, in an Arena bodes well for the genre’s future.

With chants from the eager fans of ‘Holy war!’, ‘Holy war!’, CJ gestures for the crowd to move separate in the middle with a slow drag of his arms apart. The first high pitched, distorted riff from ‘Holy War’ hits and the crowd cheer loudly, CJ takes a step forward to the very edge of the stage with the mic stand. Lyrically the song deals with the negative aspects of religion; in particular it’s link to war and violence.

I thought they performed very well given they had the job of being the opener; albeit to an audience who came here for a more accessible form of heavy metal. I really like this band.

Next up, Killswitch Engage. Arriving onstage, lead singer Jesse Leach jumped right into more recent one ‘Strength of the Mind’ (2016), the crowd loving the more recent material. ‘The End of Heartache’ (2004), got the reception it deserved too; all the classic 2000s ‘screamo’ nostalgia was being chanted around the room of fans.

Other key songs included, ‘Rose of Sharyn’ (2004), ‘My Curse’ (2006), ‘Hate by Design’ (2016), ‘My Last Serenade’ (2002) and ‘In Due Time’ (2013); Killswitch are a band who have the classic tunes but also a fair few recent bangers to unleash.

Towards the end of their set, Jesse took the time to thank the fans for supporting them for the past 20 years, which even for me is, mind-boggling. He also mentioned his recent break from social media to address his mental health problems and thanked the fans for reminding him what he loves to do.

Parkway Drive took a little longer to get onstage because they chose to enter through the crowd, which definitely added a another layer of epic-ness to their set. They were being escorted by four individuals wearing balaclava ‘ninja’ type outfits and holding large fire torches, almost seemed like a perfect fit for Bloodstock Festival?

Opening with ‘Wishing Wells’ (2018), Winston’s vocal technique is almost talking like to start with and then explodes into a heavier, deeper growling style with ‘Until I’m done! Until I’m done!.’ The lighting setup explodes into short harsh burst of bright light and the smoke consumes the stage. The crowd goes absolutely crazy when this one hits. Equal reception for ‘Prey’ (2018) and a devilish giggle spreads across the room when ‘Carrion’ (2007), the older stuff also deals damage in the pits.

‘Vice Grip’ (2015), marks another shift in mood, with their later album focusing on epic, live Arena stage performance. Their earlier Ire (2015) for me was an exercise in bringing metalcore to a wider audience without toning down the harsh vocal style. It’s a surprisingly uplifting song and was great for a sing-a-long. ‘The Void’ (2018) was another new one and it went down well. “In your mind, All your demons are rattling chains, Welcome to a world of pain,” lyrically the songs focus on personal experiences with regret, love and finding positivity in dark places.

‘Idols and Anchors’ (2007), the start of this song is epic and chants echo throughout the room. Winston’s vocal style is harsh and full of emotion throughout. ‘Dedicated’ (2015). Winston explains his inspiration behind this song saying ‘”Twelve years I’ve fought for this,” he points down at the stage and then at the rowdy crowd, “Twelve years my heart still beats.” The ‘Unbreakable’ breakdown was as brutal as ever.

Some other memorable moments were the string quartet appearing onstage for ‘Writings on the Wall’ (2015) and also ‘Shadow Boxing’ (2018) which again added more substance to their live show. The later songs saw guitarist Jeff Ling get his own raising platform to perform a solo on and Winston take to a smaller stage near the sound desk surrounded by fans. This definitely provided a slower segment to the set and allowed people to recover.

The last two reaped pure carnage. The entire stage set alight with plinths of flames and ‘Crushed’ (2015) hit harder than Brexit, circle pits and moshing all over the place with people using their last ounces of energy. ‘Bottom Feeder’ (2015) culminated in the entire room jumping up and down simultaneously. I’ve never seen anything like it.

See you very soon Parkway Drive. You’re killing it.

Reviewer and Photographer: Neale Hayes

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