“Darker Still” is a song by the Australian band Parkway Drive. It is also the title track of their 2022 album.
It is one of the best Metal tracks released in the 2020’s decade.
When it comes to Metal, there is always a discussion as to “what is Metal?”
Growing up in the 80s, there was a period up to about 1985 when any album with distortion guitar was classed as Metal.
This meant that you would find AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Kiss, Metallica, Venom, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Scorpions and Quiet Riot (just to name a few) in the Metal section. Even Punk bands ended up in the Metal section.
But the scene fragmented. Blame the labels and MTV.
The massive sales of albums from Def Leppard, Scorpions, Judas Priest and Van Halen in 84 and 85, paved the way for the massive sales to come from Bon Jovi, Europe, Guns N Roses, Whitesnake and Def Leppard again between 1986 and 1989.
The labels needed new names and suddenly Glam/Hair Metal was a thing, Hard Rock was a thing, Melodic Rock was a thing, Thrash Metal was a thing, Death Metal became a thing, Melodic Metal became a thing and then Melodic Death Metal became a thing.
And somehow a thing called Black Metal and Extreme Metal became a genre.
On the other side you had Speed Metal, which morphed to Power Metal and then elements of that style became known as Symphonic Metal and another element became known as Pirate Metal.
And we all know that Grunge came and created a wasteland of rock acts. Industrial Metal and Industrial Rock started to rule the wastelands, and then Alternative Rock and Alternative Metal came briefly just to give way to Nu Metal.
And before Nu Metal, there was Grindcore, Hardcore, Doom Metal and everything else that didn’t fit in.
Parkway Drive started off in the 2000s with a Metalcore label. Metalcore is described as a fusion music genre that combines elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk. Its known for its use of breakdowns, slow, intense passages conducive to moshing.
These days Parkway Drive is basically a Metal act (and a pretty big one) that has so many different styles in their repertoire.
Metallica in the 90s, had became a very different version to the speed Metal band that started off. While their 80s output focused on speed, they did push some boundaries in the progressive Metal world before scaling it back to end up with the biggest selling groove Metal album ever.
Then they incorporated Blues Rock and Southern Rock into their sound for the “Load” and “Reload” album cycles. And when Nu Metal became a thing with no guitar solos becoming the norm they did this as well with the “St Anger” album. But since the fans became madly in anger with them, they never returned to the “No guitar solos”.
Metal to me is an “anything goes” attitude. And that’s what Parkway Drive brings to the table.
“Darker Still” has a lot of solos. Melodic solos. Emotive and sad by Jeff Ling who is the lead guitarist and man, he plays the sections wonderfully. But the recording sessions for this album along with some personal issues broke him and he lashed out badly at vocalist Winston McCall.
Just the way it begins with the whistling and the acoustic guitar is enough to hook me in.
But it’s the whistling melody which comes in at the 28 second mark that forms the foundations of the song. Because the same melody appears later as a solo, and with a choir and with violins and it’s massive.
Especially from 4.08. You hear it all, the guitar lead, the voices and the violins. Just close your eyes and let the music take you away.
And Ling breaks free again, for one of his best solos.
The song’s lyrics to me are about a person struggling with depression and the darkness that comes with it. It describes the feeling of being trapped in a cycle of self-destructive behavior, unable to break free despite the toll it takes on their life and relationships.
The chorus of the song is powerful, with the lyrics “And the night grows darker still”
This line speaks to the idea that even in the darkest moments of our lives, there is still hope and the possibility for redemption and recovery.
After they finished doing the tracking for the “Darker Still” album, the band members started the process of breaking up. No one wanted to be in the band anymore.
More volatile meetings were held and the guys realized they needed help.
Rhythm guitarist and manager, Luke Kilpatrick, saved the band. He suggested that they get counseling. Like Metallica.
The April 2022 tour they cancelled of the U.S for undisclosed reasons was due to the weekly counseling sessions they started to have.
And they made it.
Until I die, until I die and the night grows darker still.