Review Summary: "Fortress" proves the Protest the Hero can actually write a damn good album, without resorting to silly tricks and lame breakdowns.Tilt: Nil
Context: Kezia is a 3/5
I’d just like to point out, that there is absolutely no difference in the level of dorkiness between Protest the Hero and a band like, oh say Blind Guardian. One rewrites epic fantasy tales, and the other writes ridiculous prose about the death and rebirth of a goddess. Previously, Protest the Hero carved out a massive niche being a metal band that took a bunch of influence hardcore bands, but really wasn’t metalcore
. Thus, everyone could like them without associating themselves with the worst scene in music today. However, their debut CD Kezia
was marked by a lot of repetition, horrific vocal layering and a general sense that they were just overdoing it at every possible opportunity, just to essentially be as technical as possible.
That’s all well and good, but with Fortress
, Protest the Hero have almost shed all of their past imperfections and crafted something really special. Where as before you’d hear tons of riffs strung together by random time signature shifts and then plenty of hammer ons, there are many more instances where it sounds like the band actually took the time to listen to the songs and decide that some things just don’t fit together. Imagine if Dragonforce learned how to write a 5 minute song, and then apply that same act to Protest the Hero. The record is far more enjoyable for the lack of constant wankery, while it still ends up being even more technical than Kezia
was when it needs to be.
My biggest complaint with Kezia
was the ridiculous tone of the vocals and the way they were mixed. It really seemed like it didn’t fit a lot of the time, but now Rody (vocalist/dragonslayer) has made giant strides in his technique. While his intonation still seems a little bit off when compared to the nature of the band, he has stopped the excessive layering of his vocals (not completely, but its far less apparent), and has now developed into a great range of lows and highs. He has taken over almost all vocal duties for the band (previously, other members did some of the growls and screams) and sounds fantastic doing it. Yeah, he sings about some silly *** a lot of the time, and its really hard to take the music seriously when he sings about beheading bitches and how blood will pour like fountains of water, but he really makes the album much more enjoyable this time around.
really is is an expansion of Protest’s previous sounds, and while that’s all that was really necessary, its kind of under-whelming at times. While there are plenty of new ideas and they are more reigned-in in their songs, a lot of it can sound same-y, and while its probably due to the technical nature of the band, its pretty hard to look over the fact that its hard to differentiate songs at times. Its not that big of a problem most of the time though, and really is only apparent when you’re playing the whole record while not paying keen attention. One more slight problem I have with the record is that the bass isn’t brought up to the forefront as much as it should be; there are some sick basslines and bass fills that you can hear throughout the album, but for a good portion of the records duration it’s hard to distinguish.
Then again, most people are going to listen to Fortress
for two things anyways. One is the plain sick guitar-work that makes most tech-metal bands seem like amateurs. What Hot Cross is to punk music, Protest the Hero is to metal. Another thing that most people will listen to the album is for those epic, epic moments that seem to be abound, although those can also be called something else: the cheesy as hell moments. It’s entirely in a good way, as when you hear Rody sing “tear her ***ing head from goddamn shoulders” or the keyboard solo in “Limb from Limb” its hard not to help but smile and say “damn, that was cool”. All the best songs have those moments in spades; “Bone Marrow” and “Wretch” are almost 4 minute sequences of cheesy sequences. When you hear “Our Goddess gave birth to your God” you’re going to have it stuck in your head for at least
five minutes, if not ten!
is an excellent step up from Kezia
, being everything it could have been. There are few bands doing what Protest the Hero do, and there probably aren’t any who do it nearly as well. Despite the fact it can get a bit homogenous and maybe a tad over-the-top with its concept, Fortress
is one of the most entertaining metal albums I’ve heard in a long time. It lays down a blueprint for other bands to follow if they want to make a concept record that doesn’t suck, it has some great guitar-work, and the singing is catchy as hell. Fortress
proves that as long as you fix what’s broken, then there ain’t no reason not to keep it around.
Final Rating: 3.85678