In the kitchen of the Byron Bay home of Winston McCall stands a refrigerator, adorned on one side by a quote from Tom Waits: “I want beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.”
This, the Parkway Drive vocalist says, is a pretty good summation of himself. It holds true, too, as one of the guiding principles behind Darker Still, the seventh full-length album to be born of this picturesque and serene corner of north-eastern NSW, Australia, and the defining musical statement to date from one of modern metal’s most revered bands.
Darker Still, McCall says, is the vision he and his bandmates – guitarists Jeff Ling and Luke Kilpatrick, bassist Jia O’Connor and drummer Ben Gordon – have held in their mind’s eye since a misfit group of friends first convened in their parents’ basements and backyards in 2003. The journey to reach this moment has seen Parkway evolve from metal underdogs to festival-headlining behemoth, off the back of close to 20 gruelling years, six critically and commercially acclaimed studio albums (all of which achieving Gold status in their home nation), three documentaries, one live album, and many, many thousands of shows.
“When Parkway originally started out, we all were trying to push ourselves to do more than we possibly could,” is how McCall explains it. “The better we got at it, the more comfortable we got, to the point where it became all comfortable. That is when we chose to acknowledge that just being comfortable was not necessarily doing justice to the skills and the creativity that you have grown over the years. What you hear on Darker Still is the final fulfilment of our ability to learn and grow catching up with the imagination that we have always had. These are the kinds of sounds we always had in mind. This is the way we always dreamed.”