Making their way back to the UK, and to arenas, for the first time in three years, Parkway Drive delivered a show of the most spine-tinging fashion.
A show at Alexandra Palace is always destined to be a special occasion. There’s just something about the grandiose of the building, towering over the London skyline at equal distances between Muswell Hill and Wood Green, that inspires awe whenever an event can take place there. The stunning stained glass, the endless halls coated in history, and the jaw-dropping size of the main hall, it’s a lot to take in at the best of times.
But when such occasions celebrate heavy music, it takes on a more profound sentiment. When breakdowns, circle pits, crowd surfs, and head bangs take centre stage in a room like this, it’s a reminder that anything is possible. That our culture can rub shoulders with the biggest and best in the world.
And the fact that this is Parkway Drive’s second stop-off here only makes it more incredible.
Now, it’s been a much longer wait for the band’s return to the UK than they first anticipated. They were, after all, supposed to be playing at Wembley Arena when they announced the ‘Viva The Underdogs’ European run in 2019. But as we all know, a lot has happened since then, and for the band, they have stared into the abyss more times than they would care to admit in that time as well. So for them to be set to retake this iconic stage, with a new album like the gargantuan ‘Darker Still’ in their back pocket, is a miracle in itself.
And they aren’t wasting any time in making this a night few will forget in a hurry.
The same can be said for the supporting cast of Lorna Shore and While She Sleeps. The former continues to show why they are one of the most exciting extreme bands in the world right now, and the latter use their appearance as a volatile warm-up for their own newly-announced headline show at the venue in a year’s time. It’s a showcase of all of the different strands of heaviness that make this community so vibrant and visceral.
And then it’s Parkway’s turn.
Tearing into a spine-tingling ‘Glitch’ after making it look like their backdrop is being pulled apart like two tectonic plates is the definition of spectacle. In their embrace of the more epic parts of heavy metal in recent years, the band have crafted a set of songs ready-built for rooms of the stature. ‘Prey’ gets the masses before jumping so high they are almost touching the ceiling, ‘Vice Grip’ continues to be the ultimate motivator, and future classic ‘The Greatest Fear’ slots into the chaos perfectly.
The same can be said for the more intimate and slow-burning moments. You can feel each individual hair on the back of your neck stand up during ‘Cemetery Bloom’. The stunning drama of ‘Shadow Boxing’ and the balladry of ‘Darker Still’, both backed by a string quartet, is a touch of gorgeous genius. Such emotional breaks serve as reminders of just how far the band has come and what they are capable of now. It feels almost transcendent.
And that’s before we get into how fucking crushing they sound when they go heavy again. ‘Dedicated’ almost brings a tear to the eye in how ferocious it feels, ‘Carrion’ is still as awe-inspiring as when it first dropped 13 years ago, and ‘Bottom Feeder’ glistens with absolute malice and bile-drenched wonder. And that’s not forgetting ‘Karma’, a track that still perfectly embodies the past and present of Parkway Drive in the most brilliantly savage way.
These three levels – the anthemic, the vulnerable and the brutal – that cement why Parkway belong, and have always belonged, on stages like this. Their control over caustic energy, their absolute joy at bringing such anthems to the masses in the way they deserved to be delivered, and putting themselves in the shoes of some of the greats means everything and so much more. And as they bring the curtain down with a 360-degree pyro blast on ‘Crushed’ and a chest-thudding sing-along with ‘Wild Eyes’, it’s clear once more why moments like this are so important. Heavy music being delivered on the most beautiful stages the UK has to offer. Legions of passionate and proud patrons of this sound get to share their love for it in venues that many bands would feel is an unattainable dream. A community making history together.
That’s what this is all about, and long may nights like this continue until the end of days.