Protest the Hero
Kezia


5.0
classic

Review

by Andrew Desjardin USER (7 Reviews)
April 26th, 2010 | 15 replies | 7,398 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Who'd have thought the perfect Rock Opera would be Metal?

As of this past year having heard bands that cover every aspect of genre, from the darkest stretches of the Black and Death Metal worlds to the far reaches of Hardcore, and even the bizarre world of "Adult Contemporary Death Metal" (Looking at you BTBAM), I thought I had seen almost all the Metal world had to offer. Fortunately for me, I had not yet heard Kezia by Canada's Protest The Hero.

Kezia is an album unlike anything I've ever heard. It's also the greatest example of a Rock Opera I have ever encountered. It's a grandiose story about a woman named Kezia that is to die by firing squad, told from three different perspectives; A priest in the prison she is held, a guard within the prison, and finally Kezia herself. The 10 track album is split into 4 parts, the first 9 being each from one of the following perspectives, and the 10th track being the finale. The entire album flows beautifully, with the 3 character's segments connecting perfectly both thematically and musically.

Part 1 -- The Prison Priest

The first segment on Kezia begins with No Stars of Bethlehem which sets the pace for entire album; fast, loud, and intricate. The instrumental work on Kezia is exceptional, and it does a lot to display the bands talent as musicians. Not to be outdone, the lyricism is second to none in the Metal world. The songs read more like renaissance-era poetry than they do song lyrics. Oh, and let's not forget the vocals which are some of the best in the Metal world. High-pitched screams combined with deep growls never sounded so fantastic.

"I'll burn all the lives of this angel illuminati
When St. Michael sized means find an end to justify
A belief to fortify this stained glass disgrace
Too beautiful to change or perhaps too scared
The truth behind our lives will be erased"

The entire segment is nicely riddled with abstract religious references that help you assume the role of the character. The lyrics also hint at the bands lack of trust within the church, and fittingly has a Priest that has seen societies worst and doubts his faith. Hints at this can be found in Heretics & Killers. It tells of the internal thoughts within the priest who finds it hypocritical that he is spending his life alongside criminals. It also details his choice to use Religion as a crutch in his life, leading him to become a Priest in the first place. This level of introspective lyricism is unparalleled.

"Built a temple in my life and used God to seal the pillars
After twenty years of fighting young heretics and killers
I watch my temple fall to pieces
at the first signs of oncoming weather"

The final song from the perspective of the Priest is Divinity Within which chronologs the final moments the priest has with Kezia, up until she is marched to the prison yard to face the firing squad. It reveals that Kezia has discovered the Priest is lacking in faith, and is no nervous she will expose him. The song is an internal monologue that is the perfect conclusion for the first section of the song. The vocals change to express different emotional views, from anger to sadness and everything in between.

"Today you'll bite my neck...
...and peel away the aging skin
Expose this lifeless body and the void
Divinity within (I watch my temple fall to pieces)"

Part 2 -- The Prison Guard
The next 3 songs are from the perspective of the Prison Guard, fittingly they are very different thematically than that of the Priest's. Where the Priest was heavily religious, non-violent, and compassionate, the Prison Guard is relentless, violent, and graphic. The first song is Bury The Hatchet, which provides the initial view of the Guard as a merciless man of the law. He has no remorse and constantly reminds himself that what he does is not only justifiable, but necessary. His introspection leads you to believe that he is a borderline sadist, and offers insight into how such a mindset very well.

"I swear I have compassion
I've just been trained to disregard the prisoner's life
Because I am the prison guard"

Nautical is a somewhat confusing song for me. It seems as thought it's a song that is in place to explain the Guard, but it's so riddled with metaphors and abstract references that it's a little challenging to decipher. I suppose if I had one complaint about any part of this album, this song would be it. None-the-less, it's a great song with impressive vocals and instrumentals, and leads into Blindfolds Aside which is the first song I ever heard off Kezia and a personal favorite.

"And I'm still a cigarette softly smoking on the edge of a metal ashtray
I begged this place to let me burn, and it whispered, "burn away"

Blindfolds Aside starts off with a melodic piano interlude and quickly jumps into their now signature fast-paced instrumentals and kicks off with some great high-pitched screams. The song itself details the execution from the Guard's perspective as Kezia's executioner. What's most interesting to me is how upon having to face down Kezia, she has a tremendous affect on him and even has him doubting his duties. It becomes apparent that the affect Kezia has on people is intentionally displayed through the lyricism to make her more personable going into the next section which is from her own perspective.

"And no one ever said that hope would be so beautiful,
And no one ever said I'd have to pull the trigger on her,
I can't even still her trembling hands,
that were locked up by the dutiful and the obligated..."

Part 3 -- Kezia Herself
The Kezia section begins with She Who Mars the Skin of Gods, which explains Kezia's home life and hints at why she is heading to Prison. It details Kezia's mother and in very few lines gives good insight into her personality of a mother who is a combination of a pessimist and a realist. The second half of the song is told from the view of Kezia having fled her home and writing to her mother not expecting a response but revealing her emotional vulnerability and reliance on her mother.

"Mother, I'm shaking while I write, tonight I'll stay awake and try to breathe away my fright,
There's a letter waiting for me, that I have yet to read, 'cause I know it's not from you,
And you're the only one I need, You're the only one I need.
I'm tired and I'm cold and I want to go to bed
But there's no one here to tuck me in, so the shotgun will instead."

Next is a track that fully explains the plight of Kezia, and fully explains the problems surrounding her incredibly sexist society; Turn Soonest To The Sea. It is essentially a song that breaks down Kezia and insults her character for being an adulterous heathen who was unwilling to conform to a chauvinistic society that wanted her to essentially be a slave. The song reads as though it's insight into Kezia at trial, being assessed and critiqued with statements on how she could improve her physical appearance and the importance of women being subordinates to the superior men who took care of all important societal functions.

Turn Soonest To The Sea continuously references Rib's which is a clear reference to the story of Adam and Eve and the fact that inequality amongst sexes has been around since the beginning of written human history. The song is very well thought out lyrically and the rhythmic guitar sections are amazingly woven in and out of the song to give it a very distinct sound.

"We've made you all the peasants and we've made ourselves the kings
Our queens are still subordinate as an angel {without wings}
But we make it easy to belong which means it's easy to be wrong
"Put some plastic in your tits, you'd look better as a blonde"

The final song in Kezia's section is The Divine Suicide of K. It addresses the final thoughts of Kezia as she faces the firing squad that will seal her fate. The song displays the bands ability to be almost subtly technical. The song features elaborate breakdowns and guitar work as well as very impressive drum segments. The song plays as an internal monologue from a head chaotically jumping around. Everything from the flow of the song instrumentally to the lyrical progression is in sync and builds for a great finale for our main character. It also features guest female vocals to help further humanize Kezia as a tangible person.

"Resurrected to be killed and then maybe born again
I'll always be Kezia so long as any hope remains"

Part 4 -- Finale
The finale features a single song; A Plateful of Our Dead. Not to be outdone by the other sections, the Finale's one song is as poetic and melodic as any of the sections. The lyricism is probably some of the bands finest and helps tie the whole album together in one brilliant display of technicality.

"There's merit in construction when it's done with your own hands
There's beauty in destruction, a resurrection, another chance
There's a you and I in union but just an I in my beliefs
There's a crashing plane with a banner that reads everyone's naïve"

From beginning to end Kezia is impressive. It flows perfectly as a story, and even better as an album. It holds it's own amongst the most elite of Metal albums, and unlike a lot of other albums transcends just a Metal fanbase. I've met dozens of people that are not enthusiastic self-proclaimed Metalheads who love this album. It shows that music that is above and beyond the rest is not confined to genre, and enters the realm of art where it is enjoyable by all.



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user ratings (2618)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Douglas
April 26th 2010


9102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

definitely short on detail - {sarcasm}

Transient
April 26th 2010


1461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

you took too long to say not enough

Bfhurricane
April 26th 2010


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Excellent review. Although you could have definitely spent more time in the instrumentals, I liked this because I wasn't completely up to date on the concept of all the songs.

maidenpmcc
April 26th 2010


1424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well written review dude.

Ulsufyring
April 26th 2010


1724 Comments


i swear this is a hyperbolic joke review

qwe3
April 26th 2010


21362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

must be


POST STH FOOL

neurosisxeno
April 26th 2010


69 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I welcome all criticism. It's hard to continually describe the instrumentals for this album considering it's essentially an onslaught of tapping and breakdowns. I felt what made this album amazing for me was a combination of the outstanding vocals and the conceptstory of the album. That being said I could see how people could view this as being too lacking in certain areas.

NeutralThunder12
April 26th 2010


8742 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Fortress is better.

TheSpirit
April 26th 2010


17803 Comments


nah

Digging: Emarosa - Versus

maidenpmcc
April 26th 2010


1424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

They are both class albums.

qwe3
April 26th 2010


21362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

fortress is the shittiest thing ever

Phrike
April 26th 2010


1691 Comments


no

maidenpmcc
April 26th 2010


1424 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

no [3]

Klekticist
April 26th 2010


1259 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah, definitely not.

"The first segment on Kezia begins with No Stars of Bethlehem which sets the pace for entire album; fast, loud, an intricate"

*and. some other typos here and there.
...an atypical review. I liked that you took a more poetic/lyrical angle to the album. There's very few reviews around here that do that to the extend you have here.

Keep in mind that this review does not describe the album's sound all that well, either. The review has some superfluous lines that could easily be cut down.

But, who am I to talk? You're quite the writer, and I really enjoyed this review.
Nice job.

(holy shit, long comment)

Waior
April 26th 2010


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fortress is the shittiest thing ever


123/128



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