Review Summary: Protest The Hero's second effort is marvellous, frantically fast paced and full of guitar noodling, double bass hammering, bass sweeping and vocal range defying awesomeness.
From the moment you press play on Fortress the leap of sound hits you. It's heavier, it's faster and more technically jaw dropping than their first effort Kezia. Where Rody Walker (Vocalist) kept to melodically singing on Kezia, he now does that but adds screams, growls and shows a powerful maturity to his voice which improves his range as a whole. The irreplacable guitar team of Luke Hoskin and Tim Mullar sweep, tap, hammer on, pull off, pinch, riff, chug and change time signature all in a matter of twenty seconds sometimes. Moe Carlson (Drums) still has space to breathe between the rhythm changes and adds interesting fills and utilises his skills on his double bass pedals. Arif Mirabdobaghi (Bass. Only wikipedia can spell his name). Sweeps, taps, slaps with skill that even overshadows the guitarists.
With so much going on all at once one must wonder: How is it memorable or catchy? It's memorable with lyrics about Irish mythology and goddess worship which somehow turn into catchy hooks i.e the first track Bloodmeat. The Guitarists invent literally hundreds of tasty riffs throughout the album.
Fortress does not let you down from it's thundering pace for one second, which is sometimes a let down as the first album had it's slow, sing-a-long breakdowns (Turn Soonest To The Sea). Arif is also let down by the mixing of the album by the fact that simply, he is not loud enough. When he's thundering on bass and putting the guitarists to shame it's unnoticable sometimes, this for me stopped this album being perfect because it's such a huge shame as his playing is possibly the best thing on this album. Download the bass tracks from somewhere and your "Head will Roll" as Rody Walker screams.
Songs like "Sequoia Throne" and "Bone Marrow" really do boast how much this band has progressed. Rody Walker's vocal range mesmerises as he goes from the highest scream to the lowest growl in seconds while the rest of the band sound back him like an epic 21st century metal influenced orchestra that just got a sugar rush. This can be a hit and miss asset as while songs feel like they progress naturally most of the time, there is the odd out of place riff which stops the song still until the next riff which hopefully aids the progression better.
Overall Fortress is a Progressive-Mathcore filled breath of fresh air and the album of 2008. Is it better than Kezia? It cannot be stated as the leap of sound yet very natural for the band still sounds very different. Fan of this band or not try out this album. Although you may not be able to get into the numerous changes that fill each song, you'll walk away in shock that such skillful musicians exist.