Best of 2016 Playlist

October 10, 2015

Speed Reads - Mayday Parade, blessthefall and Parkway Drive

The first in a new series of quick reviews. This inaugural post features reviews of the latest albums from Mayday Parade, blessthefall, and Parkway Drive. To buy their respective albums on iTunes please click the links below. If you enjoyed this post, let us know and we'll do more quick reviews like this! We plan on writing more in depth reviews of the albums sometime in the future, but for now we're content with these.

Mayday Parade - "Black Lines" (8/10) 

Summary - "A collection of the band's edgiest material, that brings the band back to their pop punk beginnings."

Marking a departure from the sound found in the band's album, "Monsters in the Closet", Mayday Parade have returned with this heavy hitting collection. Derek Sanders gives a raw vocal performance for the bulk of the album, releasing previously unheard gritty screams. Reviving some of the emo-pop punk style the debuted with the album also infuses some of the pop found on their previous effort. Though this doesn't work on some songs. "Just Out of Reach" gets a 6/10 from us, the overall sound is very refreshing. The boys shake things up with some nods to 90s grunge and alt. rock in songs "Hollow" and "Let's Be Honest". Plus there are songs "One of Us" and "All On Me" that could have been taken right off their debut. The acoustic "Letting Go" triumphs as the only song that really lets Sanders shine. And of course there's lead single "One of Them Will Destroy the Other" which features Dan from label-mate Real Friends. Goes without saying that track is epic. 

Favorite Tracks - "Let's Be Honest", "One of Them Will Destroy the Other", and "Hollow"

blessthefall - "To Those Left Behind" (6/10) 

Summary - "It's like a bowl of Lucky Charms. You eat all the delicious marshmallows, but then you're left with the shitty bits and you wonder why you bothered to buy it."

Thankfully the rest of the album wasn't as bad as the singles, which we reviewed in a previous post (click link to read). The album is cluttered with bad production and poor performances by the band. The worst of all being Beau Bokan's vocals. It's like the guy was drugged when he recorded the vocals. There's no edge, no interest in his usually very emotive voice. And then the engineers go and make his voice the highlight of each song. There are some real nice guitar solos and drum fills, but overall this album falls short of being anything memorable. The number of wannabe rock ballads is alarming, and criminal. No one but Nickleback puts so many cheesy ballads on an album. The band were most likely trying to appeal to a broader audience, and in doing so they make the same mistake countless artists have made. They lose what made them a noteworthy band to begin with. 

Favorite Tracks - "Looking Down from the Edge", the only track where Beau isn't singing through a Hannibal Lecter mask.

Parkway Drive - "Ire" (6.5 to 7/10) 

Summary - "An album with more misses than hits, but the few hits are superb."

The band has stated that, "...When you’re playing the same style of riff, the same drumming, the same vocals and same breakdowns for ten years, what point is there in people listening to your new record or even recording one if it sounds the exact same as the last one?" So with that in mind, let's jump into this review. 

Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be much of a point in listening to "Ire" if you're a fan of their original material.Their metalcore stylings have taken a hiatus in recent years, and now PD comes back with this heavy metal album that is overall a decent listen. It's got something for every metal fan, except maybe the band's. This release is full of thrashing breakdowns, rhythmic guitar riffs reminiscent of Lamb of God or Slayer, and even a few nu metal bits that recall Rage Against the Machine. But despite the new sound and direction, the band slip up a few times. "The Deathless Song" is so bad, it doesn't even deserve to be on the album. It takes the cheesiness found on blessthefall's album, and multiplies it by 10. The groove metal found in lead single "Vice Grip" is an acquired taste that takes some getting used to. Aside from the intro and the odd guitar choices, it's a solid 7.5/10. The track will work for some people, but as the majority of fans have expressed, it generally speaking hasn't worked. 

Favorite Tracks - The 3Ds, "Dying to Believe", "Destroyer", and "Dedicated"