Review Summary: Truth be told, it's getting a bit ridiculous how they're able to consistently be this damn good.
Protest the Hero have always seemed like one of those bands that take themselves completely seriously yet at the same time take nothing seriously at all. Don't follow? Well, take an album like Kezia
, the band's 2005 debut. Everything from the heavy political slant, the skill of the musicianship (to which they admit they wrote songs that were more complex and complicated than their abilities at the time, forcing them to practice relentlessly just to play the god damn thing), to the album's philosophical backdrop show a level of depth and planning that clashes against the image of drunken goofballs that, through over a half dozen music videos and countless interviews, they, and their livers, have worked hard to build and maintain. Protest the Hero's newest album Scurrilous
, whose name is taken from the title of the painting that adorns the cover, continues in some extent with this dichotomy, but instead of looking at it as a matter of work versus life, it now envelops the make up of the album itself.
picks up right where Fortress
left off, even including a return of those cheesy synthesizers in “Tapestry” and “Sex Tapes”. It is an overtly technical affair, ramping up the shred to some rather mind bending levels (I'm pretty sure that in the book of sheet music for Scurrilous
, there are full sections where it switches from standard notation to calculus), but this time around everything is a lot less jarring when compared to their past work, with the transitions between the light speed arpeggio runs, tight modern metal riffing, and mathy stop start sections seamlessly binding it all together. It's rather impressive considering just how many shifts and change ups there are in each song.
Vocalist Rody Walker's contributions to Scurrilous
, on the other hand, completely embody the flippant nature of the band shown in their videos. While all the lyrics on past albums were penned by bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi, this time around they are mostly Rody's brain child, giving him the chance to not only take things in a new, more sarcastic, direction for the band, but also to explore his own sense of melody. For Scurrilous
he has discarded his oft used scream in favor of his semi-operatic falsetto, a choice that may irk those that loved the vocal spazz outs like those found on “Bloodmeat”, but in using clean vocals it helps add to the cohesive feel of the album. Lyrically, there's nothing about jailed women or pagan worship here, instead it's a glimpse into the world through Rody's eyes. Think of it like the film Being John Malkovich
but instead of being in the head of a mid level Hollywood actor, you're in the head of a quick witted, cynical, and sarcastic mid-20 something.
All in all, Scurrilous
succeeds at all levels. It takes the tediousness out of technicality, and injects more hooks than a tackle box into the Protest the Hero formula. Truth be told, it's getting a bit ridiculous how they're able to consistently be this damn good.