Review Summary: Protest the Hero give the metal and hardcore world a new look with both their musical sophistication and raw energy. Despite a few flaws, it's a must have for almost anyone.
Imagine an album that almost anyone can get something out of. If you’re a musician, you’d be able to appreciate the intricacy and technicality. If you’re a punk rocker, you’d love the raw energy. If you’re into metal, you’d get a kick out of the often heavy riffs and breakdowns. And if you’re into lighter music, don’t fret; there are plenty of melodic and catchy moments throughout. Sounds like a great album, doesn’t it? Well, it definitely is.
I can think of only a few albums that cover as much ground as Protest the Hero
does. This album brings the furious drumming of punk with the face-melting guitar acrobatics of technical death and progressive metal. And on top of that, you’ve got soaring vocals that give this album almost a post-hardcore feel. You’re introduced to this smorgasbord of sounds almost immediately, as “No Stars over Bethlehem”
greets you with a crushing intensity. The drums really carry this album along for Kezia
’s entirety, as the bass drum is incredibly loud in the mix and relentlessly pounds away until the acoustic guitars close at the very end of “A Plateful of Our Dead”
While the drums provide a very intense and solid background, the real treat of Kezia
is the eyebrow-raising, head-banging, and devil-horn-throwing work of the guitars and bass. This is one of the most intricate and complicated albums to follow in terms of guitar work. The three string musicians are often all playing different parts, and each part is often quite technical. If a guitar part is ever seems relaxed, it’s pretty easy to hear either the other guitar track or bass track laying down a crazy run, tapping section, or sweep arpeggio. Some of my personal favorites in this album are the sweeping trade-offs at the end of “Heretics and Killers”
, the head-bobbing 7/8 groove section in “Divinity Within”
, and the incredibly technical intro in “Turn Soonest to the Sea”
. These are just a few examples, but you can rest assured that this album is filled to the brim with very impressive guitar work. Any guitarist or bassist should find it easy to appreciate Kezia
, especially because everyone in the band is so young.
The vocals are really a toss-up with me, and always have been. Upon first hearing this album I remember enjoying them, and I thought that Rody Walker’s voice, while being different from almost anything I’ve heard from a metal band, was good. I’ve definitely listened to this album many times since then, and I’ve come to think less of it. While he certainly shows potential as a great melodic singer, he just doesn’t seem to fit as well as another vocalist could. Someone like Tommy Rogers from Between the Buried and Me would be much better for this band, but I have confidence that Rody will be able to pull off a better performance by their next release. While some of his vocal moments are very powerful (like the final minute of “Nautical”
), there’s still some parts that just annoy the living hell out of me (like “Turn Soonest to the Sea”
at 3:41). Rody’s super-high notes are just really out of place and just don’t need to be there at the album. They stick out like a sore thumb and leave a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the song.
Overall, this album is definitely a success. Kezia
definitely gives the listener a lot to absorb, which gives tremendous replay value. You’ll definitely find plenty of moments that you’ll cherish and listen to time and time again, be it the sophistication that the guitars offer, or the sheer power that the drums and vocals give you. There’s a few rough spots that I’m sure the band can easily patch up in the near future. Protest the Hero is certainly off to a roaring start with this album, and show loads of potential in both the metal and hardcore worlds. I’d recommend this album to damn near anyone.
Thor’s Top 3 from this album:
Turn Soonest to the Sea
The Divine Suicide of K