Protest the Hero is a band that has flown under the radar for most of their career. They have drawn grand reviews for their albums and garnered much critical acclaim. Hailing from north of the border, these Ontario boys have consistently broken the frame of the “M3T4L” genre. Do not be fooled by the fact that they are classified as a “metal” band because that is far from who they are. I would equate them to the styles of Symphony X, Liquid Tension Experiment, Between the Buried and Me, Rush, Iron Maiden, and even, The Who. Their newest album, Scurrilous, is their junior studio release and is now available on iTunes or at Amazon.com.
Protest the Hero’s freshman album, Kezia, was a shot of diabolical, progressive talent that the music industry direly needed. Kezia received much critical acclaim for the band’s technicality and bravery. Fortress, their sophomore release, captured the growth of the band through the intricate guitar pieces, methodical drums, and progressive rhythms all woven around the concept of the degendering of God told through the exploratory vocals of frontman, Rody Walker. Does their junior release offer the same brilliance that their fans have come to expect?
My answer would be, “no”. All of the key aspects of the band shine through in this album; the over-defined bass lines, the speedy arpeggios and guitar duels, the mathematically driven drums, and sporadic flow of time and manipulation of musical elements. So where does my complaint lie? Well, in the least likely of places; the lyrics. Protest the Hero has been defined not only by their unique approach to music, but by their extraordinary lyrics. Kezia was a concept album, and all though Fortress was not, any listener can connect the dots and vividly imagine a world ruled by a cruel Goddess. Scurrilous starts of with the track C’est La Vie which seems to be more of a personal piece than any of their previous titles. Later in the album you get the song Tandem which tells the story of a misguided love defined by the guidance of a higher being. The lyrics seem to have shifted from creative concept writing towards generic cause-and-effect life lessons. The theme of personally relatable lyrics overruns this album. Granted, the passion is still prevalent in the vocals, but the ideals being pandered are a lot less entertaining then hearing/imagining far off realms, mythical battles, religious destruction and parallel universes.
The single from their new album;
“The Reign of Unending Terror” – Protest the Hero
I am not the only one to have felt this way about Scurrilous, because, sadly, the album is yielding so-so reviews from the same authors who praised them for their previous works. Is this a reason to give up on the band? HELL NO! These boys are only just getting started. I praise them for their experimentation with more realistic lyrics, and maybe they were trying to send a deeper message or perhaps work through some life issues themselves. I do not know, but the album is strong regardless just not their most satisfying piece of work. If this was your first introduction to Protest the Hero, I strongly suggest that you visit their earlier albums before settling yourself down with this album. Protest the Hero is, to me, not just a band of extremely talented individuals, but an experience. Listen to Kezia and Fortress, then move on to Scurrilous.
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