Less a concept album and more a “well-executed, honest narrative”, Darker Still is arguably the most cohesive Parkway Drive album to date. From the sci-fi-influenced interlude Stranger to explosive lead single Glitch (which started life back in April 2018, but has undergone around “15 to 20” rewrites and endless combinations since then), it’s the sound of a band firing on all cylinders, from every angle.
“The basis of this really was, ‘If you don’t ever get to create another album again – which is a genuine possibility – what are you gonna do?’” Winston explains. “And it was just like: ‘It’s got to be more, right?’ We wanted to make sure that everything was done to the best of our abilities – the anthemic songs are more rock than they’ve ever been before, and the hooks are bigger than anything they’ve been before, and the expanse of where we travel is also far bigger than anything we’ve done before. That was kind of the goal: to work towards that with those things in mind, and try to make it happen organically, and don’t shy away from the challenge.”
Nowhere is this more evident than on the gorgeous, ever-evolving title-track – the “centrepiece” of the LP. It sees Parkway Drive shooting for – and absolutely nailing – a classic metal ballad moment, in the vein of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters and Guns N’ Roses’ November Rain.
“That’s something we’ve never tried before,” Winston points out. “It’s such a challenge, and when we started this band from day one we held those songs in a place that was so far beyond anything achievable – it’s like, ‘I’m not making anything like that, but I hold it in a place of reverence to a degree that’s so fucking high it’s ridiculous!’ And we just got to the point where it was like, ‘Let’s fucking go for it.’”
None of this, though, comes at a sacrifice to Parkway’s personality on record. Or, as Winston lovingly puts it, they’ve not gotten rid of any of “the weird”.
“Just when you predict it to a degree, it goes somewhere where you weren’t expecting,” he says. “And it does that through various turns and tricks, until it just bludgeons you right at the end (laughs). In terms of wanting Parkway to not only break out of any box we’re in but crush it on the floor and set it on fire, and dance around the flames, then this is definitely all about that! We’ve been about that for a long time; it’s just that I think we’re better at doing it now than we’ve ever been.”