Parkway Drive finally played again at Forest National, after 2 years of Covid-19 and shows rescheduled, with a brand new album “Darker Still” released 3 days before. Announced as future headliners for the biggest heavy festivals in the world next to Five Finger Death Punch or Ghost, the Australian band had to confirm it tonight. Not a failed mission but could have been better.
Previously announced as the Vive The Underdogs Tour featuring Hatebreed and Stick To Your Guns in 2020, then postponed to 2021 with Crystal Lake as new opener, the tour is finally happening in 2022 rebranded Darker Still Tour around the new album “Darker Still” and with new opening acts, While She Sleeps and Lorna Shore. This time is the good one. Finally. Monday 12 September 2022, thousands of metalheads fans are in Brussels.
In 2019, the band already headlined this venue and we still remembered how sad both Killswitch Engage and Thy Art Is Murder were. Everybody were waiting Parkway Drive. Fortunately, tonight’s audience is more open-minded and are ready to mosh! Lorna Shore will have the opportunity to confirm the huge hype happening around their name since a few months with a decent public. Sadly for them – which is gonna be the case for the whole night -, the sound is really bad. The sound is blurry, unclear and not precise which is bad for a deathcore act. Many things have changed during the pandemic but not the reputation of Forest National. Fortunately, after a couple of songs for a good warm-up, the public started to move a bit more: moshpit, wall of death and a few crowdsurfings. The highlight of the show was definitively Sun//Eater released in May with a powerful voice of Will Ramos who was the only member of the band moving a lot on stage. His 2 colleagues stayed still in their own sides of the stage… For their next tour – hopefully a headliner one -, it would be great to see them move a bit! That being said, we’re glad they had the chance to prove what they’re now capable of in front of a good crowd.
Set-list: To The Hellfire, Of The Abyss, And I Return To Nothingness, Sun//Eater, Into The Earth, Cursed To Die.
FOREST NATIONAL FAITHFUL TO ITS REPUTATION
Main support of this tour: While She Sleeps. The British act knows the venue as they’ve played here 6 years ago as opener for Bring Me The Horizon. Small fact to notice: the whole balcony was opened for this show in 2016 which was near to sold out. It’s not the case tonight: the ground floor was full as f*ck, the first floor of balcony was too but the second floor was barely opened. So a bigger success than the Parkway Drive show in 2019 but still less full than for the BMTH, Volbeat or Ghost shows there.
Main support means more time: 45 minutes exactly. A time they used to focus on their last 3 albums, sadly. Goodbye “Brainwashed” (2015), “This Is The Six” (2012) and “The North Stands For Nothing” (2010). Obviously, they are not the first band to do so and not the last one – right Parkway Drive ?- but it’s a sad new for the many famous hits they released at this time and even more sad than the last records aren’t the best. At Jera On Air last Summer, we didn’t even stay for the whole show because of the set-list and the bad sound. Tonight, despite the bad sound once again, we stayed for the whole set.
WHILE SHE SLEEPS FORGET THEIR ROOTS
It’s been a while since While She Sleeps became one of the biggest band in the metalcore scene and tonight’s show proved it. Half of the ground floor knew their songs – or it seems to -, many kids enjoyed the pit, made tons of crowdsurfings, got down on the floor when Lawrence asked for it, etc. Good for them. But for us, we just had the same feeling of waste with this band.
Set-list: Sleeps Society, Anti-Social, You Are All You Need, The Guilty Party, I’ve Seen It All, Eye To Eye, You Are We, Fakers Plague, Silence Speaks, Systematic.
After a 30 minutes break and some difficulties to go back inside the venue as the ground floor was announced full, it was finally the time to welcome the stars of the evening coming from the lovely Australia: Parkway Drive. They are one of the best live bands in the metal scene and we’ve always had a kick-ass time with them, even before the pandemic when they release “Reverence” which sounded different and not as good as expected. Sadly, a few days ago, they released their 7th full-length album “Darker Still”: we almost didn’t reckon the band.
As a promotional tour, they have to play as new many songs as possible: 4 in total. If Glitch sounded decent because it was the opening song and we were in the hype to finally see PWD live again, the 3 other sounds boring as f*ck and were all in bad position in the set-list. After Glitch, we had an insane trio: Prey, Carrion, Vice Grip. Released in 2018 on “Reverence”, Prey is a song made for stadium and the big shows: the response at Graspop in 2018 was pure madness. Carrion doesn’t need any introduce since more than 10 years. We are just glad they didn’t totally forget where they come from (right While She Sleeps ?). And Vice Grip, the first song that marked a real musical turning point in their career in 2015, when they were mocked and called the new Bon Jovi by a couple of fans, is now in the most awaiting songs of their shows!
PARKWAY DRIVE: HALF OF THE SET-LIST IS GOOD TO THROW AWAY
Their set tonight can but cut in 5 parts. We just talked about the first one. The second one is one to forget: Dedicated, Ground Zero and Cemetery Bloom. Yes, they tried something different. Yes, we fully understand. But no, it’s not a big success. And the many fireworks didn’t hide that. The third part is short but sick: The Void followed by Karma. The Void is the second and last song from “Reverence” that deserved to be in their set-list compared to the high level of their discography. Like Prey, it sounded different, it was made for the stadium but was not cliché, was still powerful but mainstream enough to get new fans. Karma is the heaviest song they played tonight but it doesn’t sound good as before. Something is gone. This song unfortunately doesn’t reflect how they are anymore. The first mark that the romance is dead between Parkway Drive and a part of their fanbase?!
Until 2018, Parkway Drive used to release that make them become stadium-size. Now, they write cliché songs to become stadium-size. The next part of their show proved it: The Greatest Fear, Shadow Boxing and Darker Still. If you’re greatest fear was to hear one day Parkway Drive releasing a song with a chorus like sounding like Sabaton, you fear is now real. On Darker Still, the band went in the darkest places possible with Winston trying to sing but without making it a success unfortunately and even more sad: the cliché ending with the guitar solo from Jeff. A cliché between Bullet For My Valentine and Scorpions. They finished the set on a good one: Bottom Feeder.
Almost zero suspense for the songs played during the encore obviously. About that: what if all the bands on Earth stopped to do encore as we always know they’ll come back? A few big acts like Foo Fighters don’t do that. It’s not necessary to do an encore to make a successful show. But it’s another debate: we don’t blame Parkway Drive at all.
The stage went on fire for Crushed. Nothing to say about it, it was pure madness. On stage and in the crowd. What we can blame them is the cliché ending: all the members coming in front the stage saying goodbyes like it was over. Really?! It remembered us when they played the fake stop during Karma during the last tours. We all knew they were going to play Wild Eyes. They had too. Nobody would imagine them to finished their show without it. The fans started to sing-along the main riff, followed by Jeff guitar and then the rest of the band. With a garbled sound once again by the way. Like the sets of While She Sleeps and Lorna Shore, the average sound was bad during the whole set but even with a good sound, we would still have been disappointed by the Aussies for sure. Sadly.
This is it. Parkway Drive ended their show by letting us a bitter taste in the mouth. We’d have prefered a better taste… and a better set-list. Forced to make some place for the new songs, classic hits like Idols And Anchors disappeared.
Set-list: Glitch, Prey, Carrion, Vice Grip, Dedicated, Ground Zero, Cemetery Bloom, The Void, Karma, The Greatest Fear, Shadow Boxing, Darker Still, Bottom Feeder // Crushed, Wild Eyes.
Parkway Drive has changed a lot during the pandemic. They’re not a metalcore band anymore. What are they? A power/heavy/alternative metal band? One thing sure: they’re on the highway to become a boring and cliché band like Five Finger Death Punch. And we are not ready to grieve.