After a seven year split, Brisbane punk-rockers Speedlab made their triumphant return to music with …
PARKWAY DRIVE w/, Killswitch Engage and Thy Art Is Murder
Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne
Friday November 2, 2018
We can officially say that Thy Art Is Murder hold the title of ‘heaviest act to play Margaret Court Arena’. As far as we know, Bring Me The Horizon’s Chelsea Smile had the single track honour by default but Dear Desolation blows that out the water. At an ear splitting volume, the Australian kings of deathcore rip into The Purest Strain of Hate. Right, no pretences that they’re going to match the usual clientele at the tennis court then. It all comes out as a bit of a mess as CJ McMahon’s screams bounce off the walls, but it’s not like this is their usual wheelhouse. Their songs aren’t meant for arenas or stadiums, so why bother trying to knock the acoustics? It’s pretty phenomenal to hear the crowd chant of “you will see the true face of panic” from the floor all the way up in the stands though. Again, who could have ever thought that a song like Slaves Beyond Death or Holy War would find its way into this sort of venue. Closing with his usual banter, McMahon calls out over the PA “The next train arriving on platform nine will be the service to East Melbourne.” That’s it, and they’re off. A sense of humour never goes astray with the despair of deathcore.
Have Killswitch Engage ever had a bad show? From what we’ve seen tonight, the slickly oiled performance surely can’t ever fail. They’ve been at the top of their craft for so long that it seems like the band are miming a live performance. Of course they’re not, and vocalist Jesse Leach is in phenomenal form. An even spread across their career sees Rose of Sharyn mix with Beyond the Flames. Guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz is in good spirits, waving his derriere at the crowd as he solos his way through The End of Heartache. Unfortunately there’s no way for him to run off stage and grab a beer mid-set as some fans may have hoped, but we can’t have everything can we?
We’re going to go out on a limb and say that Parkway Drive have the best metalcore show in the entire world. If anyone can prove us wrong, we’d love to hear it. The crunch of the gravel heralds the opening of latest record Reverence’s Wishing Wells. As if it would be anything else that would transport us into the world of Parkway in 2018. The excitement is palpable as the crowd begins to cheer and woop as the lyrics “Nothing’s gonna stop me till I’m done …” reach their climax. With a flash of light vocalist Winston McCall screams “UNTIL I’M DOOOOONE”, the drums thunder and oh my GOD. As they pause, the venue erupts, and Winston asks if Melbourne are ready. We definitely aren’t, because they scare the hell out of all of us with a pyro blast punctuating “Tonight I’m killing GODS.”
The arena stomping riff of Prey is finally given a suitable stage in Melbourne. Again, when the hell would anyone have ever thought that Carrion would have nearly 5000 people scream on a tennis court back in the youth centre days? Winston says as much, questioning how the hell they ended up here. Back to back Vice Grip showcases their mainstream breakout Ire’s ability to swap between crowd singalong and mosh fuel. Tingles mate, when Winston only has to say “12 years …” and the pit opens up. With so many different influences in their arsenal, Parkway have crafted a show that finally gives pause and breath to those who’ve been launched in the air during Absolute Power. Cemetery Bloom is gorgeous; Winston, backlit with white light, shows off his clean vocal chops in one of the darkest sounding love songs they’ve written. This is the show they’ve deserved since Atlas and it’s a joy to behold. Finally they have a production that matches the tied tight musicianship that brought them here. Fans are used to the band stopping Karma for a better circle pit, but it’s the only time we’ve ever seen Winston command the entire pit into running in a circle. Some of those in the stands wish they could be down there he says (correct), and they’d better damn well make it count. Apart from a select few right at the corners, front and back, the singer gets his wish.
Not content to wow with shooting flames, strobes and whip crack pyro blasts, the band bring a string quartet to the forefront for Writings on the Wall. The floor quakes as drummer Ben Gordon enters, and Shadow Boxing with Winston taking clean vocal duties again does one of their most ambitious efforts justice. There’s beauty in seeing the tracks given its full due, and it can’t be overstated. Anyone who’s a fan of the band, or even the genre in general, know what’s coming as the band leave the stage after Wild Eyes. The infamous flame lit stage coincides with the Gregorian chants that herald the arrival of Crushed. Finally seeing Gordon rotate in his 360 degree cage is, how the Europeans have been saying after seeing it for the first time, cool as fuck. Closing with Bottom Feeder, we’re calling it show of the year. Unfortunately we’re inside so the fireworks are stunted on stage (yes Brisbane, you win this round), but they’re still there. More flames, more like this. That’s all we’ve ever wanted. How the hell do we go back to tiny clubs? That’s a question Parkway will never have to think about. “This is only the beginning,” says Winston from atop a mechanical riser at one point. We’re inclined to think he’s right.//