Review Summary: Cut and paste.
How do you feel about Protest the Hero? Be completely honest. I mean, even vocalist Rody Walker himself seems to realise that his band is, at best, an extremely polarising band for listeners: you’re either swept off your feet by the band’s undeniable technical prowess or you’re astounded by the band’s adamant laziness and ultimate refusal to be anything close to coherent. Where do you stand? Do you like the band’s rapid, ADD progressive stylings and Walker’s operatic wail or do the goddess-slaughter lyrics and mindless noodling make you nauseous? Well - if the final, be-all-end-all question really is “how much Rody Walker is too much?
” then I’d have no choice but to say that Protest the Hero have already got a failure on their hands with Scurrilous
, you say, “surely there’s more to Scurrilous than Walker’s ceaseless screeching
?” Well, yeah - lest we forget how awesome of musicians Protest the Hero are, every song is literally bursting at the seams with self-indulgent, technical riffery and fills. Kezia
got away with its own ridiculous indulgence by the fact it was written be 19-year-old Canadians and Fortress
got away with such by being manageably coherent for an album of its kind (‘Sequoia Throne’ being an obvious exception). But, listen: the haphazard, cut-and-paste hack job Protest the Hero have thrown together here is far too lazy to be considered a progression. ‘Dunsel’, for example, is one of the most confused amalgams of unconventional/useless time signatures, scales, speed-picking and gimmickry Canada has ever been represented by. Scurrilous
’ instrumental section is so distracted beyond repair that it subconsciously riffs itself into dizzying genre-bending circles without ever finding a solid, decipherable hook or a reoccurring theme. Ultimately, you’re left with a sloppily arranged prog-jigsaw puzzle of blues riffs, breakdowns and thrashing about - not necessarily the foundation you want to build an album on.
Now, let’s say Scurrilous
is a cake and the band’s instrumentation is the pastry body. You see, Rody Walker’s aimless, operatic vocals are without a doubt the godforsaken icing on this godforsaken dessert and that’s the driving reason as to why this cake is so ***ing awful. Now, it’s not that Walker can’t sing - heavens no, he’s certainly got enough skill to stand among the musicians that back him up but just like his incompetent band, he doesn’t know how to use his talent. Despite an expert performance on ‘C’est La Vie’ (the album’s only consistently good song) and some jaw-dropping acrobatics in ‘Tapestry’, most of Walker’s performance is aimlessly un-melodic and grating. For better or for worse, there are no harsh vocals on Scurrilous
(save for a juvenile ‘Bloodmeat’-esque scat section in ‘Tapestry’), so all you’re left with is Walker’s structureless screeching. ‘Sex Tapes’ is a prime example of Walker’s lack of direction - he outright refuses to sing a decent hook and instead opts for off-kilter, irritating melodies straight from the books of Kezia
and Mr. Bungle. I suppose it doesn’t help that the band’s lyrics aren’t much better: ‘Sex Tapes’ might wish to succeed by its intentional gratuity but, let’s be fair: tales of jerking off in private are just as appealing as you’d think they’d be. What’s the worst Scurrilous
has to offer? How about “everyone knows that cancer takes bites of every family and it eats some families whole
”? Perhaps ”sometimes a knife right through your heart is exactly what you need, sometimes the things that you’re ashamed make you who you’re supposed to be”
is the winner? Hats off to you, Protest the Hero!
But isn’t it all just a bit heartbreaking? So much potential
; so much squandering. You’ve got a man who can sing his ass off, a band that can make almost any musician blush and they all share the only nationality that the entire world shamelessly covets. Yet you’ve also got a schlacked-together ***fest of recycled, shredding riffs and Rody Walker’s obnoxious, cheesy bellowing about wet journalists. So, maybe the question isn’t the direct “how do you feel about Protest the Hero
” but the understanding, empathetic “how do you balance the fine line between tasteful technicality and mindless self-indulgence?
” And really, do I know? I really don’t. But if you happen to stumble upon the answer, please enlighten Walker and the boys - the results could actually be worth listening to.
For now, Scurrilous
is all we have. *** this cake.