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Live Review & Gallery: Parkway Drive w/ Killswitch Engage & Thy Art Is Murder @ Riverstage – 28.10.2018

Well, well, well… the time has finally come. When we first heard of all the teasing of a massive Parkway Drive tour, following the release of their sixth studio album ‘Reverence’, we knew this was going to be a biggie. Joined by the likes of Killswitch Engage and Thy Art Is Murder, who could never be classified as “support acts”, we knew this was going to be one hell of an evening. Low and behold, as we stood in the 8000+ strong crowd, the vibe was electric as every single person knew, chaos was imminent.

Sydney’s deathcore kings, Thy Art Is Murder pretty much kicked us in the face right off the bat with the likes of Dear Desolation and Purest Strain of Hate. As the heaviest act of the night, Thy Art showcased the best of their signature sound featuring their signature blast beats and CJ’s guttural screams. Lee Stanton was absent on the drums however whoever replaced him was an absolute weapon!

The five-piece soared through their hit list featuring Holy War, Reign of Darkness, Slaves Beyond Death. This super tight performance featured everything we could want from the five-piece including a wall-of-death, huge bass drops and filthy breakdowns before wrapping it up with one of their latest bangers, Puppet Master.

Hailing from Massachusetts, USA, metalcore giants Killswitch Engage cranked things up and got the party started. Rose of Sharyn, Strength of the Mind and Hell in Me had the masses singing every word, accompanied by a super festive, colourful lightshow. The energy was electric with guitarist Adam D running around and providing some killer backing vocals.

Some sort of strange debate ensued over whether pizza or sex was better. We’re not sure what the conclusion was however we were quickly engulfed in a whirlwind of classics featuring some stellar musicianship from the two guitarists Adam D and Joel Stroetzel. There were some very nice dual vocals in Hate by Design however, overall front man Jessie Leache’s vocals are generally fairly average (Team Howard Jones for the win *cough cough*).

The set was wound up with some absolute bangers—My Last Serenade, End of Heartache and My Curse caused things to escalate to another level right before our minds were blown by a killer performance of In Due Time to wrap up the set. Killswitch are professionals through and through and deliver a stellar performance. Great energy and musicianship for the basis of their show and it really sets them above many bands in the genre.

The time had come, the anticipation for the mighty Parkway Drive had the crowd on edge. The curtain dropped to reveal the skeleton of their insane stage setup. With more lights and hydraulic platforms that we ever knew we needed, the Byron Bay legends took the stage to the intro of Wishing Wells. Lead guitarist Jeff Ling was missing however Thy Art Is Murder’s lead guitarist Andy Marsh stepped up to the plate in what must’ve been a dream come true to support and play with the Byron Bay legends.

The energy was insane and this was only emphasised by the epic European staging. Drummer, Ben Gordon sat raised in a metal frame above his comrades with what must’ve been an incredible view of thousands of people singing Carrion and Vice Grip at the tops of their lungs. We were finally graced with spurts of fire, aptly timed with the song and much to the amusement of the crowd. At times the flames came awfully close to guitarist Luke Kilpatrick but careful planning was obvious as the five seasoned musicians barely noticed the searing heat and chaos that surrounded them. The culmination of the lights, flames, smoke and rain made for an experience that can hardly be described without failing to adequately set the scene.

Parkway delivered some killer renditions of their newer material from ‘Ire’ and ‘Reverence’ as they eased through Dedicated, Absolute Power (with an awesome bass-lead intro from Jia O’Connor) and Cemetery Bloom. The latter of which was interesting to watch as Winston ventured into unfamiliar territory. Left alone on a dark stage with white lights illuminating him alone, the charismatic frontman delivered the haunting performance seamlessly, which served as nice break in the set.

At this point, things got turned up to eleven as the crowd was obliterated with flames stretching across the stage and beyond during The Void. Idols and Anchors had the crowd chanting along in perfect unison before Karma just destroyed everyone. Although it must be said, Karma had to be restarted as one of the band members messed up. Yes, we know its hard to believe but Parkway Drive are in fact human, however this little hiccup did result in one of the biggest circle pits we’ve ever seen at Riverstage. The strobes worked overtime and we thought epileptic seizures were imminent. Luckily everyone was okay and the fivesome on stage quickly turned into a ninesome as Parkway were joined by a string quartet to deliver what was probably one of the highlights of the night with Writings on the Wall and Shadow Boxing. Winston’s cleans were actually fairly decent and the live strings behind the emotive guitars and vocals made for a truly incredible moment.

After the rowdiness that was Wild Eyes, complete with synchronised strobes and crowd chants, the band left the stage. We all took part in the typical “one more song!” bollocks but thankfully Parkway returned with Ben fully strapped into the drum kit. That’s when we know it was about to go down! With the entire stage and drum frame covered in flames, the quintet erupted into Crushed with full force. The crowd lost their minds as Ben’s flaming drum frame rotated full revolutions as he drummed. Some real Slipknot inspired shizz but hey it was dope and everyone loved every second of it! The production crew really put a shift in with this tour! Huge props to them.

When the dust settled, Winston took a minute to catch his breath and thank Killswitch and Thy Art before thanking the crowd for all their support. He mentioned that he was having some serious panic attacks prior to the show and it was the thought of the fans and all their support that pulled him onto the stage that night. To show his appreciation, McCall and his compodres delivered a tenacious performance of the angsty track, Bottom Feeder. IT. WENT. OFF! Flames, sparks, strobes and just pure insanity ensued as the crowd bellowed every word right back at the stage. Every neck was snapped as the breakdown hit and the end of the show was marked with impeccably timed fireworks from beyond Riverstage. What a spectacle and fitting way to end this memorable and epic evening for heavy music.

Overall, that could honestly be one of the best shows we have ever seen. It sounds dramatic, but we stand by that. There was a nice balance of acts from the heaviest of deathcore to the different facets of metalcore. Again, huge props ought to be given to the organisers and production crew for putting on such an epic experience.

The bands themselves were incredible and we have no doubt that this show will be one of the highlights of the year. This was a night full of absolute legends and all around good guys who are doing a killer job at representing the heavy music industry across the world.

Written by Daniel Devitt

Photos by Ebony Mealing