Having released new album Atlas in the last year a UK tour for Parkway Drive – Australia’s finest export – was hotly anticipated, and they finally took a trip to the UK at the tail end of their European tour. Sadly there was no Birmingham date, and so a trip to the O2 Academy in Bristol was in order.
First up on the bill were Carnifex [7/10], who are in no way a small name in the deathcore scene. Kicking right into the brutality of their set with ‘Deathwish’, their hard-hitting and technical music was strange to hear at the beginning of a Parkway Drive gig, but their sound was solid and enough to create an overbearing heavy atmosphere. Their lead vocalist exerted a lot of energy on trying to get the crowd going, encouraging circle pit after circle pit, but it took a few songs for the crowd to get into the spirit and start moving. Of course for the first band on the audience was at its smallest, but it was very receptive, throwing up “the horns” whenever they were asked, and eventually warmed to the band that were first on.
Second up were fellow Aussies Northlane [9/10], who have only recently brought in new vocalist Marcus, a talented guy who was plucked out of obscurity from the open auditions the band held, inviting people to upload covers online and send them in – a topic we discussed in an interview with bassist Alex before the show. The anticipation in the crowd was high as everyone was waiting to see how well Marcus would perform live: the answer is very. I have seen Northlane before and so I knew to expect a skull-shakingly heavy performance, and they duly delivered with a show that didn’t sacrifice the technical proficiency of their music for dancing around on stage, but instead embraced the haunting sound of their music to put on a metalcore masterclass. Their new single ‘Rot’ (which showcases a new sound for them) was well received, and had the largest mosh pits of the set, which was wonderful to see. Finishing off with ‘Quantum Flux’, it is abundantly clear that Northlane’s music was made to be performed live; it is simply some of the best live music you’ll hear.
Having interviewed guitarist Maik earlier in the day, it was exciting to see German headbangers Heaven Shall Burn [8/10] rock up onto the stage to open with ‘Counterweight’ and the crowd instantly go wild. Their lead vocalist Marcus looks pure evil when he has the microphone to his mouth, and interacted with the crowd well (in between the times he was pretending to casually masturbate on stage) and even stage dived at the end of their lively set. Their lighting show was on point, and it was wonderful to see a standing crowd so partisan in their enjoyment of a support act, and if their reception in the UK was anything to go by, it is clear to see why they were co-headlining the tour on the continent.
After waiting for what seemed like an eternity between bands, Parkway Drive [9/10] slowly took to the stage as the intro to ‘Wild Eyes’ echoed through the main room, and kicked in with blinding stage lights, confetti cannons and reams of toilet paper strewn across the crowd. Wasting no time after this to bring in the huge hit ‘Sleepwalker’, it set the tone for a set that was designed entirely with the fans in mind: a fan base that is so passionate about the music that they sing along when there is no singing, a trait hat has now become a staple in the song ‘Idols and Anchors’. Vocalist Winston McCall comes off as such a down to earth and chilled out guy during his interactions with the crowd, and seemed ecstatic when introducing old classic ‘Mutiny’ from their debut album Killing With A Smile, a surprise to many in the crowd.
They topped off their main set with ‘Swing’ from new album Atlas, which involved a hell of a lot of fist pumping, before departing and returning for an encore of ‘Horizons’ and fan favourite ‘Carrion’, which saw yet more confetti and mosh pits full of people squeezing out every last bit of energy they had left to finish off the night.
Throwing around brutal breakdowns and crowd chants in their music like it’s nothing, a set from Parkway Drive is always a special one to witness, and in Bristol we were treated to a spectacle on how a band should perform.