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Written by  Brandon McCarthy

For me, the great nation of Australia has produced two great things that impacted my life for the better: the Crocodile Hunter and heavy music. The Land Down Under is where some of the most exciting rocking bands have come from. From Rock Hall of Famers AC/DC to new wave rock gurus INXS, I could not get enough of them. Recently, more heavy rock groups have emerged from there and the sound is just getting better and better with Airbourne, Make Them Suffer, Like a Storm, and of course the crème de le crème, Parkway Drive. Rockaholic first introduced me to the New South Wales metalcore bashers when they released their 5th album, Ire, and I fell for their brutal nature and ravaging riffs. Last time we saw them, they headlined the Hollywood Palladium in 2019 and the sound board stopped working in the middle of their set, ending the show early and bumming the hell out of me. After 3 years, Parkway Drive returns to the States with Southern metalcore outfit Memphis May Fire and progressive djent warriors Currents. First stop was the Wiltern, where Rabit, Rockaholic, and I attended.

First up on the bill was Currents. Fresh off their latest hit album, The Death We Seek, the progressive/djent masters of SharpTone Records were the perfect blend of angst and excitement. Frontman Brian Willie produced hypersonic melodies and hellacious screams that give each tune its own soul.  One of the things I truly enjoyed seeing was the righteous breakdown riffs and invigorating hooks performed magnificently by guitarists Chris Wiseman and Ryan Castaldi. Bassist Christian Pulgarin and drummer Matt Young did not go too far off the rails with the beat, but they made it feel fiery with djent passion. They had a short setlist, but Currents made every second count at the Wiltern. From “Monsters” to “Into Despair,” “The Death We Seek,” “Kill the Ache,” “Better Days,” and “Vengeance,” we were in djent heaven. The song that stood out the most was their latest single, “Remember Me” because I felt the raw passion not only with the lyrics but also for the song’s tone. In a world that is riddled with metalcore artists, Currents proved that night they have boldness and stamina.

It has been a while since I caught Memphis May Fire, but I was more than ready for those guys. Hailing from Denton, Mich., the metalcore bad boys rocked the stage and brought some Southern rock flair to the mix. The Rise Records vets were guns blazing, returning to their former glory after experimenting with the nu metal sound as evidenced on their last album, Broken (2018). Frontman Matty Mullins, in all his Heavenly swagger, gave the fans a perfect mixer of clean vocals and harsh screaming, cutting straight to the point with his words. Longtime lead guitarist and sole original member Kellen McGregor blasted through the riffs with dominant force as drummer Jake Garland and bassist Cory Elder attacked the beat with sheer will. Garland stood out the most as I come to relish his vicious style of playing. Memphis for much of the evening played tunes from their last year hit, Remade in Misery, which included “Blood & Water,” “Left for Dead,” “Death Inside,” “Bleed Me Dry,” “Somebody,” “The American Dream,” “Make Believe,” and “Misery.” Of course, no Memphis May Fire would not be a true show without hearing 2 of their classic hits, “Vice” and “The Sinner.” After watching that, the stage as well as the crowd, were on fire.

With 2 bands down, out came the group that truly are metalcore idols, Parkway Drive. All I was praying for (I am sure Rabit and Rockaholic did as well) was that the Wiltern sound board did not crap out this time around. Promoting Darker Still (which happens to be album #7), they performed at high volumes and an ultra-cool set design. It is always fun to hear the first scream from longtime frontman Winston McCall. A brute force with a zeal for heavy metal, McCall wasted no time engaging the audience with his signature screams. As rhythm guitarist Luke Kilpatrick, aka Pig, fiercely laid down the main riffs, lead guitarist Jeff Ling layered in succulent solos and licks that would cross the boundaries of metalcore, classic metal, and nu metal. Dare I say, Pig and Ling are one of metalcore’s finest guitar duos to date. Drummer Ben “Gaz” Gordon wreaked havoc on the kit, all the while bassist Jia “Pie” O’Connor brutalized the beat with his swift plucks. From “Glitch” to “Prey,” “Carrion,” “The Void,” “Vice Grip,” “Dedicated,” “Boneyards,” “Imperial Heretic,” “The Greatest Fear,” “Darker Still,” and “Bottom Feeder,” simply put, Parkway Drive kicked ass!

It is safe to say that this Parkway Drive performance out trumps the Hollywood Palladium performance. Why may you ask? Well, it is because…THE SOUND BOARD WORKED THE WHOLE NIGHT!!! Memphis May Fire were full of heavy Southern charm, while Currents were progressively rancorous. There is no feeling like it, for attending a metal concert can be therapeutic. With a lot of beer and whiskey in me, we all came out of the Wiltern feeling rejuvenated, and it was only Tuesday. To Parkway Drive, Memphis May Fire, and Currents, I salute you. Horns up!!!

Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez

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