Parkway Drive Albums Ranked

It’s not cool to like Parkway Drive anymore. There is a clear shift in the direction of the band, and the days of blast beats and ferocious licks are all but forgotten. Luckily I’ve never been cool, so I’m going to rank all of the Parkway Drive albums. Since Darker Still will be out in two weeks, I figured it’s a perfect time.

The criteria for the rankings, unsurprisingly, will be personal preference. But I will make an attempt at objectivity when breaking down the music. Last note: I’m not considering the Don’t Close Your Eyes EP.

Parkway Drive Albums: The Bottom Feeders

Killing with a Smile

Yes, it’s ranked “last” in our list of Parkway Drive albums, but it is by no means a bad album. If I was just discovering this band, and “Killing with a Smile” came out on KMaN’s Friday release chart, I’d lose my mind. It would be an AOTY contender and I’d be hyping Parkway Drive as the next metal juggernaut.

The reason why it finds itself in this position is I feel the vocals don’t match with the riffs. The riffs, mind you, are simply fantastic. It’s as if they were tailor-made for me. But Winston’s voice on this album is young and not as polished as it will soon become. His cadence doesn’t complement the rest of the song, something I value. 

For this reason, if you bump a lot of tech death, I highly recommend it. 

Standouts: Gimme Ad, Romance Is Dead

Deep Blue

Parkway Drive put a foot up our ass on album three. My only criticisms from their debut have been completely eradicated. Winston’s voice developed into a powerful war machine. The vocals, drums, and riffs worked together like a well-tuned engine to beat your ass. Best ass beating you’ve ever received.

“Deep Blue” CHUGGED. Steady headbanging. 0-0-0-1 0-0-0-1. Meat and potatoes. But it did not come at the sacrifice of Jeff Ling’s classic melodic riffs throughout the song. It was a perfect blend. The entire album gives you stank face with a slow, but deep headbang. Jesus Christ, I’m listening to it as I write this and it’s just absurd how well they blended beefy chugs with fast licks. 

Recommend this to some hardo on metal twitter and let them know 200 Stab Wounds could never.

Standouts: Deliver Me, Home Is for the Heartless, Sleepwalker

Parkway Drive Albums of some Reverence

Ire

Many fans will state this is the start of their “decline”. Many fans also still have active Facebook accounts and have arguments in comment sections.

“Ire” is the clear beginning of the band becoming more accessible to a wider audience. While some see that as harsh criticism, I look at it this way: a good song is a good song. That’s (almost) all that matters. I would like to note that at this point, Winston McCall has taken the throne (in my completely biased opinion) of having the best range of harsh vocals. Highs, mids, lows, king. 

Top to bottom, it probably doesn’t have the depth that their earlier discography had, but they did something very significant, and that has to matter.

“Bottom Feeder” is arguably the greatest song they’ve ever written, with one of the best hooks ever to grace your eustachian tube. It’s a Mount Rushmore song, and it’s a masterclass in efficiency. It was made for spilling beers, jumping around, and giving free high fives to strangers.

“Ire” was an album written for arenas. “Crushed”, “Bottom Feeder”, and “Vice Grip”. All staples in their live show, all songs made to share with thousands. We love going to shows, and they wrote music specifically for the shows we go to. Good band, yep.

Stand Outs: Bottom Feeder, Destroyer, Vice Grip

Reverence

This album holds a very special place in my heart. It came right at the perfect time and was just what the doctor ordered. I saw them tour this album in 2019, and that night left a lasting impact on me, shaping my taste in music going forward. I was on the front lines for the wall of death setting up the breakdown of “Bottom Feeder”, so clearly, life was going well for me.

To this date, it’s the most diverse album in their discography (until September 9th). It features, once again, two of their greatest musical achievements. I’m biased when it comes to “Wishing Wells”, but you’re an asshole if you can’t enjoy “Prey”. Please no mean comments, I’m living MY truth.

They also discovered they are the authority on slow, cowboy metal. As somebody obsessed with Red Dead Redemption 2, this scratched me right where I itch. Here, I completely understand all criticisms. But Arthur Morgan has me by the short and curlies.

Reverence is a great album to recommend to your friends that are starting to dip their toes into heavier sounds. What a great bonding moment that could bring. Be a good pal.

Standouts: Prey, Wishing Wells, The Colour of Leaving (For Arthur Morgan)

God-Tier Parkway Drive Albums

Horizons

Recently, I was arguing with myself as I was starting to wonder if this was my number one. “Horizons” was my introduction to Parkway Drive. I will never forget the person that told me to listen to “Carrion”. If I win the lottery, they will most certainly receive a text from me when I am on Parkway Drive’s tour bus. Not money. I’m selfish.

If I may use a metaphor: “Horizons” is the Frieza Saga of Dragon Ball Z. Still early in the show, but officially established as an absolute POWERHOUSE. “Carrion” is the Super Saiyan moment of the album, and will forever remain one of their greatest achievements. A riff that was made for the perfect summer sunset. Windows down, sun in your face, hand out the window doing that roller coaster thing. Life gives us beautiful serene moments sometimes.

“In a moment I am lost. Screaming from the inside” Doom and gloom, and yet so calming. Back to the action.

The crowning jewel for this album – aside from “Carrion”– is the verse structure. I’m not one for music that is overly complex (See: Tech Death) or something that doesn’t move around melodically. A happy medium is ideal.

“Horizons” wrote the book utilizing multiple riffs in a song. It’s a full plate of delicious food. We’ve got a delicious entrée with a great selection of sides. Eat up.

Standouts: Carrion, Idols and Anchors, Boneyards

Atlas

My favorite Parkway Drive album has it all, folks. Anthems, jams, vibes, and even their best album art.

It also features what the band probably considers their best song: “Wild Eyes”. It very well could be the song they wrote where the live reaction triggered the lightbulb for what occurs on the next two albums. I mean have you seen it live? I’d write as many songs as I could that would invoke that reaction from the crowd, just watch the Wacken version.

“Atlas” also marks a slight shift in the band’s sound. No longer an all gas and no breaks approach seen on KWAS and Horizons, but a diverse range in tempo. The title track is accompanied by a string section to create a smooth yet somber tone. Pair that with harsh vocals and you get a great progressive sound that any band can experiment with as far as I’m concerned.

Where I think “Atlas” thrives is in its replay quality. For me, brutality is a mood. If you redline the whole album, I’m likely only going to listen to it after the Lions lose or if work is pissing me off. This album is riddled with tracks that improve my mood, not complement it. 

Standouts: Sleight of Hand, Wild Eyes, The Slow Surrender

In short..

These rankings are not set in stone, my mood will change along with what I value in good tunes. “Horizons” might be number one in a month. I might age into an emotional teddy bear and “Darker Still” will be number one. But I DO feel confident in saying “Atlas”, “Horizons”, and “Deep Blue” are objectively their greatest total pieces of work.  

Why was Deep Blue so low if I feel this way? Because Cam Newton took that Auburn team to a natty. “Bottom Feeder” was Cam Newton in 2010. “Prey” and “Wishing Wells” were LeBron and Kyrie in 2016. Deep Blue was the 2015 Kansas City Royals.

Are these comparisons accurate? Does it tarnish the credibility of my rankings? No idea.  

If I could ask for one thing, it’s that I hope you read this and at the very least check out an old album for the first time, or maybe revisit one, and realize that there was a reason Parkway Drive headlined Wacken. 

Otherwise, Blast Beats is returning for season two next week. We are fresh and bloated with good tunes.

Blast Beats: My Top Ten AOTY List

Radical Larry's Top 10 AOTY List

Always late than never, I present my Top Ten AOTY list

Throughout this month I’ve seen end of the year lists that spanned from anywhere from 40-100. I’m going to bring you ten. Ten is a number I feel where I can give you an honest assessment of an album. I’ve listened to these top albums enough times where my opinion was backed by somewhat credible ears. If I tried to expand beyond that, I’d be full of shit. Even more than usual.

I’ll start off with my first five, give a brief synopsis, and then go a little deeper with my top five.

10. Tetrarch – Unstable

I love Nu-Metal. I grew up with it, and it was a major part of my entry into heavy music. Memes and insults aside, nu-metal is pretty much dead. Enter Tetrarch.

This album was straight out of 2003 in the absolute best way imaginable. If you criticize a metal band for being catchy, take a lap and get over yourself. Unstable has catchy hook after catchy hook that deserves to be experienced live. Fantastic songs and I’ll gladly included it in my Top Ten AOTY list.

9. Beartooth – Below

Caleb Shomo needs to be higher on everyone’s rock and metal hierarchy. Every riff, blast beat (shout out), drum fill, and bass line that you heard on this album was recorded by the man himself. That should matter.

It still features those anthemic jams which have become a Beartooth staple, but also has tracks that straight up chug and punch faces.

8. Hooded Menace – The Tritonus Bell

Death Doom stand up! 48 minutes of gloomy yet groovy Death Metal. If you don’t do anything else with your life, I suggest you at least turn on Blood Ornaments and head bob for the next nine minutes.

Those born before 1995, you may feel like you’re sitting in front of a PC playing Doom II. Anyone born after 1995, go download Doom II.

7. Cerebral Rot – Excretion of Morality

The year of death metal continues with the pure slimy evil joy that is Cerebral Rot. This is classic death metal lore from the album work, to the exhausting song titles. But its money maker resides in the perfectly sinister riffs.

6. Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

Honestly, this album is likely number one in any other Top Ten AOTY list. It’s just that impressive from all fronts. Cannibal Corpse is over 30 years into their career and the formula isn’t changing. Adding Erik Rutan to the lineup might have added another 10-75 years for all we know.

Radical Larry’s Top 5 AOTY List

5. Enforced – Kill Grid

I wake up every day thankful that Enforced exists. Make no mistake, 2021 was the year of death metal. But Enforced reminded us there will always be a spot at the dinner table for great thrash. In my perfect world, Kill Grid is the official launching point for the resurgence of thrash. It’s fast, it chugs, and it’s packed full of great riffs.

Knox Colby’s voice blends perfectly with the outstanding attack of Alex Bishop on drums and axe duo of Will Wagstaff and Zach Monahan.

I loved this album so much that I started making my own stupid memes for it and making Enforced themselves suffer.

If thrash is to make a comeback, as it should, enforced will be front and center.

4. Whitechapel – Kin

If I could sum up this album in one word, it would easily be “emotional”. A Bloodsoaked Symphony, the premier song of 2021, illustrates this point better than any other. Phil Bozeman also let us know his cleans are just as good as his harsh vocals, giving their catalog an impressive range.

It’s not fair to compare to it to their incredible 2019 release The Valley, but Kin is a great example of trying a few different things for the better. It reminded me in a way of Parkway Drive’s Reverence.

3. Rivers of Nihil – The Work

Rivers of Nihil is currently orchestrating the sneakiest takeover in metal. 2018’s Where Owls Know My Name was a haymaker, and boy did it knock you down.

You get back up, the ref is still counting, grabs your hands, and asks if you’re okay. Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. More sir.

“MY BODY, MY PRIDE, ONCE RADIANT INSIDE”

Boom, you’re licking the canvas again.

The Work wrapped up a four album run, each dealing with the theme of a specific season. In this case: Winter. As a progressive metal unit, Rivers of Nihil are firmly established with a powerful yet mystic sound. The Work isn’t a chugging riff celebration or the standard metal blueprint. 

It’s a powerful and enigmatic, drawing metalheads from all walks of life that come together and say “This shit slaps”.

2. Carcass – Torn Arteries

Pure stanky grooves.

This album is AWESOME. Let’s take a moment to appreciate when heavy metal titans are still churning out great music 35 years into their careers. Torn Arteries is stank face music. It’s “look at your buddy, squint your eyes, and make a scowl” music. It’s music you play for that hard rock friend that “doesn’t like screamo”. Then Dance Of Ixtab gets into gear and he goes “Hey what’s this?”

Torn Arteries is the album that reminds us that with nasty riffs, anything is possible.

It’s a unique blend of accessible melodies and riffs with harsh and piercing vocals, which frankly, metal could use so much more of. It was the year of Death Metal in 2021, and Torn Arteries was the exclamation point

1. Slaughter to Prevail – Kostolom

For my money (mine) no band had captured our attention in the way that Slaughter to Prevail had when Demolisher arrived. My first taste came from listening to LiquidMetal on Sirius XM. On-air DJ Shawn the Butcher intro’d the song by warning us that the ground was going to open up after about a minute and a half, and Satan was going to emerge.

He was right and it was awesome. Alex the Terrible’s malevolent gutturals took the throne for the most prominent contemporary voice in metal (only to be later challenged by Will Ramos of Lorna Shore). Several months later, Baba Yaga was released as a second single and continued their trend of striving for the heaviest breakdowns in metal.

First impressions after those two singles, I was expecting the album to be a meat and potatoes “nobody is heavier than us because you can’t sound like us” kind of release.

After we had time to fully digest the album, somebody on Twitter had made what I thought at the time was the hottest of takes — Kostolom was a nu-metal album.  However, with tracks like “Your Only” and “Agony”, it was easy to see the rationale.  You could make the comparisons to Iowa-era Slipknot. 

This album did the rare feat of living up to the hype and provides a great transition for somebody looking to dip their toe in the heaviest of realms of music.

An easy number one for my Top Ten AOTY list.

To hear from Chris and Zach with their Top Ten AOTY list, I highly encourage you to check out the podcast as well as our other shows we provide

Detroit Tigers: Javier Baez to sign six-year $140 million contract

The Detroit Tigers have agreed to sign free-agent shortstop Javier Baez to a six-year $140 million contract.

The soon-to-be 29-year-old was a key cog in the Chicago Cubs lineup that bucked a 108-year championship drought. He also finished second in the 2018 MVP race after posting career highs in nearly every offensive category.

Throughout his eight-year career, Baez has established himself as an elite and flashy defender. In 2020, his stellar play led to the Gold Glove award. Tigers fans can also expect Baez to continue wreaking havoc for the opponent on the bases.

He’s also, however, still a free swinger. In 2021, Baez led major league baseball in strikeouts while also ranking 3rd in strikeout percentage. The Cubs sent their star infielder to the New York Mets just before the July trade deadline, where a new approach led to a reduced strikeout rate and increased walk rate.

Javier Baez signed a six-year $140 million contract with the Detroit Tigers
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

Tigers fans had been loudly clamoring for Carlos Correa since the 2021 regular season. Yet, this move should not come as a surprise. General Manager Al Avila and owner Chris Illitch have already been on record saying they do not wish to pay a single player $300 million, and they didn’t.

At $140 million, the Tigers are still in the market for another bat or arm. Utility extraordinaire Chris Taylor is still available, in addition to left-handed slugger Kyle Schwarber.

On a larger budget, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Nick Castellanos wouldn’t be the most unrealistic moves in the world for a team that once boasted Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander all making over $20 million annually.

This move sets the Tigers up to begin their next championship window. Young phenoms Riley Green and Spencer Torkelson are expected to be lineup mainstays for the 2022 campaign. Pitchers Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize will also be off of any pitching restrictions.

The current CBA is set to expire Wednesday, which will likely freeze any further free agency deals for the time being.

Detroit Tigers: Tigers Sign Eduardo Rodriguez

The Detroit Tigers have signed left-handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

The former Red Sox pitcher inked a five-year deal with a player option after the second year. With incentives, the deal is valued at up to $80 million.

Rodriguez has been a model of consistency in his big league career, coming off another 30+ start season. In 2019, he finished sixth in the Cy Young award race, where he posted a career-high 203.1 innings.

As a result, the Red Sox will receive a compensatory draft pick, in addition, the Tigers will surrender their third-highest draft pick in 2022.

Where does he fit in the Tigers rotation?

Even with the innings limits removed from Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize, Eduardo Rodriguez will likely find himself anywhere between 2-4 in AJ Hinch’s rotation.

His repertoire includes a fastball that will sit around 93 mph, which he compliments well with a changeup around 85 mph, a cutter at 88 mph, and a slider at 82 mph.

Rodriguez is a strikeout savant who is coming off posting his career-best strikeout rate (10.6 per nine innings) while also among the league’s best at limiting hard contact. In addition, he also had the lowest walk rate of his career (2.7 per nine innings).

The lefty is poised to be a veteran presence in the young Tigers rotation despite being only 28 years old. He and Matthew Boyd are the most tenured starters on the Tigers…for now cough Justin Verlander.

This move is the Tigers’ second of the offseason after they traded for two-time Gold Glove
catcher Tucker Barnhart on November 3rd.

Tigers’ GM Al Avila has previously identified the strong need at improving the starting pitching this offseason, even placing it as a top priority.

Despite Tigers fans’ strong desire to hand a blank check to Carlos Correa before any other moves are made, this should come as no surprise after witnessing the Tigers select eight pitchers in the 2021 MLB Draft.

BREAKING: Detroit Tigers Acquire Tucker Barnhart

Credit: Ross D Franklin AP

The offseason is underway, and the Detroit Tigers have struck first as they acquired Tucker Barnhart. The Detroit Tigers have sent minor league prospect Nick Quintana to the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange for two-time Gold Glove award-winning catcher Tucker Barnhart.

The Tigers made the move in part due to Jake Rogers scheduled to miss the entire 2022 season. He will recover from Tommy John surgery.

Barnhart, an exceptional pitch framer, joins the Tigers after posting a 49.4% strike rate (Percentage of non-swinging strikes on the edge of the zone that were called ie: borderline) in 2021.

For comparison, Greyson Greiner led the Tigers with 48.5%. Notable higher than Eric Haase (44.7%), Jake Rogers (44.4%), and Dustin Garneau (43.3%).

Last season also saw Barnhart’s career-best in Runs from Extra Strikes, which converts strikes to runs saved, with a +5. No other catcher on the Tigers roster posted anything as a net positive.

Offensively, Barnhart won’t be a focal point of the order but will by no means be a hole in the lineup. At his position, his slash line of .247/.317/.368 as well as his 21 doubles and 100 strikeouts put him at league average.

What did exactly did the Tigers send away?

Nick Quintana was the Tigers second-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Quintana’s best-projected trait at the big league level was his power tool, notably to the pull side. Thus far in his pro career, Quintana found himself susceptible to high velocity and has found himself struggling to make contact.

It’s still very early in his pro career, but if the Tigers saw doubts in his development, they received an excellent return in getting a formidable backstop in Barnhart.

Trading for Barnhart is the first move of hopefully many for the Tigers, in what is going to be their most highly anticipated offseason in recent memory. Fans have been clamoring for Carlos Correa to reunite with his old manager, as well as bringing home beloved starter Justin Verlander.