Review Summary: Scurrilous might just be Protest The Hero's most fully realised effort to date.
Protest the Hero have never been your ordinary neighborhood band. They're a band of extremes, and they are known for their ability to blend these extremes together in a fresh and interesting fashion. Needless to say that after the massive success they garnered with their previous efforts, Kezia
, their newest release Scurrilous
was being hyped quite a bit. However, even though expectations were sky high, Scurrilous doesn't disappoint. Quite the contrary, Scurrilous
might just be Protest The Hero's most fully realised effort to date.
sees Protest the Hero taking a (small) break from the aggression and slowly evolving towards a more powerful progressive sound in which they amplify the focus on the melodic elements in their songs. This makes the songs feel more like a fully realised musical project rather than simply gripping you with highly technical riffs and complicated musical arrangements. Of course, melody isn't everything, and Protest The Hero is a very technically proficient band, so it would be a waste to not utilize the band's abilities to their fullest. That is why there's still plenty of technicality to be found here and their old musical tricks like the start-stop sections and the sudden tempo changes are still part of the toolbox. A good example is the album's most aggressive track 'Tongue-Splitter' which is just pumping with adrenaline and might just be the single best thing Protest The Hero have ever done. The difference between the technical parts on Scurrilous
and those that can be witnessed on Fortress
is that they seem to fit more into place this time around. These elements combined make the album come off as very slick and polished, but it might take a few listens to get used to. The sad part about Scurrilous
is that it once again clearly points out who the weakest link of the band is: their drummer, Moe Carlson. Sure, he gets the job done, but it seems that just keeping up with the band was taking up all his time, so his overall performance turns out to be pretty stale. Luckily, the rest of the band are playing top-notch, so the drums turn out to be only a minor issue.
The band, or rather the band minus their drummer's performance may be top-notch, but the one thing that was destined to make or break Scurrilous
is their lead vocalist and newly assigned lyricist Rody Walker. His vocal capabilities, consisting of an overall powerful voice, a strong falsetto, competent screams and even an occasional growl have always been a point of debate and his vocals will probably be the main point that people will like/dislike about Scurrilous
. Rody's actual vocal performance is quite strong, even if you take into account that he is barely utilizing his screaming (or his growling) abilities. His screechy vocals combine well with the more progressive and melodic feel of the album, such as on the standout track 'C'est La Vie'. It is actually quite impressive how he manages to bring so much variation into the record . Not that the record wasn't already very varied to begin with, but Rody's vocals are a welcome addition. Still, Rody is not solely relying on his powerful cleans. You'll still encounter some fragments of his screaming abilities once in a while, like on the anthemic 'Tandem' or the aforementioned 'Tongue-Splitter' but they are still scarcely used throughout the album. Frankly, that is for the best, since more of his screams would probably not fit in with the overall less aggressive feel off the album anyway.
Whatever the case, Rody is obviously at the top of his game here and it is admirable how much effort he seems to have put into the lyrics, which are sadly not as good as the ones on their previous efforts. Still, they are not that bad and they do offer an interesting perspective on life. There is a lot of sarcasm hidden in his lyrics, and if you listen closely they might even surprise you. There are a few hiccups to be found in the lyrics, but the band manages to cover those up nicely. Rody wasn't the only one writing the lyrics for Scurrilous though, three songs written by their bassist, the guy with quite possibly the most awesome name of all time: Arif Mirabdolbaghi. And they are as good as ever. 'C'est La Vie' sees the band taking an interesting ironic spin on the theme of suicide, or 'Sex Tapes' which is a delightful parody on today's ever growing grip of the media. The third song, 'Moonlight', isn't all that special lyrically but the song is powerful enough as it is. The lyrical themes on Scurrilous
are very varied, and this surely makes the album even more entertaining. The shift to a more open approach on the lyrics seems to have been for the best, because on Scurrilous the band have delivered some of their best and most honest lyrics to date. You could say that they have 'matured'. Well, maybe only in their lyrical approach, but the more personal take on certain matters helps the album feel more cohesive, and it certainly makes Scurrilous
stand out as something more than just the next step in their musical career.
In conclusion: Scurrilous is the soundtrack to a wild roller coaster ride with a lot of variation, mind blowing melodic power, personal lyrics and fantastic musical arrangements that will leave you dazzled for a very long time to come. Taking all this into consideration, Scurrilous
is definitely the next step in Protest The Hero's ever progressing quest for greatness. It'll be interesting to see where they will be going next.