Protest the Hero


Protest the Hero - Fortress ©2008 Vagrant
On Conquest & Capture:
1. Bloodmeat
2. The Dissentience
3. Bone Marrow
4. Sequoia Throne
5. Palms Read
6. Limb From Limb
7. Spoils
8. Wretch
9. Goddess Bound
10. Goddess Gagged

Protest the Hero is one of those modern genre-defying high flying acts that deftly hop from one style to another, often within seconds. The Canadian band shows off such a musical ability to perform taut change-ups and stop-on-a-dime movements that they make fellow countrymen Rush sound like the Ramones in comparison. Okay, that's a bit of a stretch, but let the record show that Protest the Hero are some very accomplished young musicians who apparently spend most of their free time contemplating difficult song structures and time changes.

The band's second full length, Fortress, is a dizzying experience of musical onslaught that never lets up from the get-go. Within minutes, you will hear influence from such places as late 80s Bay Area thrash, German power metal, mathcore, hardcore and speed metal. Much of the time is spent with the various musicians performing "lookit what I can do!" stunts with zippy guitar leads (some of which could be straight out of the most frantic of any At the Gates copycat bands) and tricky time changes. From what I can gather, songwriting for Protest the Hero involves taking at least thirty different song fragments and throwing them all at the wall. Most of it sticks, incidentally. However, although this demonstrates their strength of musical proficiency, there is a major tendency for none of the songs to have any significant identity from the rest of the material. The vocals are seemingly a mix between that fellow from Mars Volta/At the Drive-In, any number of German power metal wailers, and hardcore-ish high pitched dirty vocals. It should be noted that most of the album features clean singing.

Without a doubt, the talent of Protest the Hero as well as their manic energy and triumphant musical passages will be the most prominent aspects of Fortress. But the sheer amount of twists and turns that never quite congeal into what laymen might call "a really memorable song" make the album somewhat exhausting. To my ears, Protest the Hero sounds like a young band caught up in their collective abilities and have yet to settle down to the point where they focus their firepower into something besides a shotgun barrage of disparate ideas. That said, this is a very promising act that will impress many people and can only get better from this point. Fortress, despite its flaws, is something worth checking out by both metal and modern hardcore fans alike.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2008

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