Catch Me If You Can…The Case for Protest the Heroby Henry McMillan on May 6, 2011 • 11:32 am No Comments
Protest the Hero is the next step in the musical evolution of Metal. Their newest album Scurrilous (2011) on Vagrant Records, proves it. Even repeated listening leaves undiscovered nuances hidden for each fresh spin. Frenetic riffs intertwine seamlessly with a relentless pounding rhythm section. As each track rushes forward at break neck speed, swirling layers of melody accompany each machine gun riff. Unlike many prog-metal bands before them, PTH never seem to overplay. Each instrument, no matter how technically challenging it’s individual performance might be, fits effortlessly into the compositional structure of the song, leaving nothing out of context.
Any single track on the album would function adequately as a purely instrumental piece, but vocalist Rody Walker does what most metal vocalists would find utterly impossible, weaving a gorgeous chain of melodies through the maelstrom of instruments that surround him. He screams and wails operatic choruses (the good kind, which almost always drive the listener into “drop to one knee” sing-a-long) and is able to suddenly shift, without warning, to singing soulfully and softly in jazzy melodic interludes. If there were a title granted for vocal range and capability, Walker would certainly be a contender.
Protest The Hero - C’est La Vie (Official Video)
Guitarists Tim Millar and Luke Hoskin, set a nearly inimitable standard for tandem metal guitar work. The traditional lead and rhythm guitar roles are blurred and in some cases abandoned all together. Precision, speed, intricacy, these guys do it all. Tonally, the rhythm work recalls the best work of Megadeth, but with a more modern twist. The influences are not linear, nor bound to traditional metal. Savvy drips from the fluid tonally diverse lines, flowing endlessly through the course of every song, speaking to the best of fusion players from all eras.
The influences are not linear, nor bound to traditional metal. Savvy drips from the fluid tonally diverse lines, flowing endlessly through the course of every song, speaking to the best of fusion players from all eras.
A graceful legato run can fall instantly into a dissonant explosion of hardcore-tinged riffery. Every guitarist I have coerced into listening to this album, is instantly mesmerized. This is not to ignore the stellar, insanely tight work of the rhythm section, bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi, and drummer Moe Carlson, who’s immovable foundation allows the guitars and vocals a worthy structure for their theatrical display’s of prowess and invention.
I can get lost in this album.
My main issue with the current state of music, (perhaps this has always been the case), is the seemingly unimaginative, preconceived manner in which most artists are written for, recorded and then re-processed via studio trickery. What differentiates PTH from much of the unprecedented horde of modern metal acts, is their sense of purpose. Their fans always seem to refer to an underlying meaning to “what they are doing,” giving a nod to the idea that PTH is innovating, moving the meaning of metal in a new and needed direction.
There is no filler here, no need to skip tracks. The entire album is a sonic adventure, one song dovetailing flawlessly into the next. A sense of anticipation builds during each songs transition, the listener constantly anticipant of the next musical twist. PTH delivers.
Longtime fans will notice a departure from the esoteric lyrical content of PTH’s previous albums (Fortress, 2008 & Keiza, 2006). The main shift being that this majority of the lyrics for Scurrilous were written by Walker, were on the past two albums Mirabdolbaghi handled the majority of the lyrics. The result is a much more personal take on the meaning of the songs, which in my opinion, makes the record stand out with a separate identity, instead of just being more of the same… progression without the loss of what made the music great in the first place.
Protest The Hero - “Bloodmeat” [Official Video]
This is one band I’ll never get tired of listening to.