Review Summary: Protest the Hero return with a masterpiece that rivals even their best offerings so far.
Protest the Hero has always had a tendency for surprises. Their views, their music, their image etc. It’s far from unexpected considering their obscure niche in music. Concept albums about feminism and Irish mythology backed by ever changing, frantic and extremely technical music which showcases some of the most skillful playing seen for years is far from the norm in today’s music industry. Another thing that is far from ordinary in this seemingly mundane industry, is the fact this band keeps on being so superb.
As is tradition with this band, the opening track “C’est La Vie” is a perfect statement of what you’re about to hear from the rest of the album. In Scurrilous’s case it’s perfected songwriting which is aided by more personal, intense and witty lyrics than its predecessor that are sung better than ever before than Rody Walker. By the team of Luke Hoskin and Tim Millar who continue to overpower expectations, the better mixed version of the gifted bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi and finally the improved powerhouse of a drummer that is Moe Carlson. I use the words better and improved to convey the poignant point that this album proves: This album is an all-round improvement.
The songwriting is more raw, natural and technical than ever, it’s Protest the Hero singing about what they believe in again as they did on their first effort Kezia , and that is what brings the personal touch into the music that was lost somewhere in Fortress’s concepts. No longer does a riff feel forced for the sake of progression or lyric added to aid to an obscure tale of Genghis Khan murdering people in his prayers. It feels like everything is happening because it feels like it should happen, something which even Kezia could not grasp. While the leap of sound on this album is not as obvious as the one between the first and second, the subtle changes are just as huge.
A perfect example of this is one of the stars of the album “Dunsel”. Firstly Rody has ditched his growls and screams for more clean and powerful voice which sounds more mature, aggressive and overall better than ever. Secondly Luke’s leads are still technical as ever but they are more memorable and emotional and not just impressive for the sake of being impressive, whilst Tim’s rhythm playing is more dominant and tighter, one of the reasons being his quirky addition of Jazz chords. Thirdly Arif is louder on bass which has been a constant irk for me since the first album since he is possibly the most talented member of this band and continues to even sometimes out skill the guitarists. Finally Moe has never sounded better, he is like Arif, more prominent in the mixing. With the rhythm changes not as frequent as the other albums he is given more time to shine and wastes not a second of it.
All the aspects of this band that have worked in the past and more have been included in this album which overall results in a masterpiece that rivals the perfection that was the first. This is Protest the Hero at their most polished, honest and astounding in years. After this achievement the future for these five mighty Canadians is a bright and true one.
Tempting, but I'd rather travel back 10 years and correct a few things. Besides, while my enjoyment(or lack there of) gestates over the next 10 years I can listen to other great bands that I know of who will be releasing good material, or finding bands I'd never heard of who are also releasing good material thereby creating a magnificent musical library into which my possible new love of PTH shall reside.
It's not as if I'm going to not give these guys the time of day in their future releases. I just have a feeling, that my sentiment will stay the same.
No worries man, don't spend a lot of time on these guys. I love Scurrilous, for example, but I realize the band's criticisms, and can certainly see why others wouldn't like it. And you don't need to spend a lot of time on an album that you just don't see yourself liking anytime soon; that's the antithesis of music, and I say this because I've found myself guilty of such behavior exceedingly often and end up regretting it immensely (coughcough JAMES BLAKE)
"No longer does a riff feel forced for the sake of progression or lyric added to aid to an obscure tale of Genghis Khan murdering people in his prayers. It feels like everything is happening because it feels like it should happen, something which even Kezia could not grasp."
i vehemently disagree with this, its actually the opposite.
Haha I was messing around. This album is just way more interesting to me than Fortress (haven't heard Kezia); it's much more cohesive and catchy, the hooks are much more memorable and they didn't recycle every single verse from one song to the next.
Wow I really disagree with that. As a guitar player I can actually guarantee the riffs on Fortress were more coherent and definitely easier to dissect. Also, On Kezia and Fortress (especially kezia) Rody's melodies were absolutely brilliant. On here, they sound forced, they dont make sense, their tiresome, and very awkward at some points (except in Cest La Vie and Termites). This album is so bland and awkward compared to Kezia and Fortress, which are far more memorable than this. The riffing on here was also dissapointing. Only a few songs had guitar melodies and parts I really got into, whereas on Kezia and Fortress all the leads were fantastic.
"As a guitar player I can actually guarantee the riffs on Fortress were more coherent and definitely easier to dissect."
Welll I don't know how factual this can be. Regardless of what instruments one plays, some parts will just sound better or worse to different people. It's true that you appreciate albums that cater to an instrument you play a lot, like BTBAM's Colors did for me as a drummer. However, I would never argue anything more than the idea of just liking the way a person plays, you know?
I just think the guitar parts on here sound much better. Although it's not the leads that I like most about this album, it's just the way that the songs are written. I love the structure of Moonlight, of Hair-Trigger, of Tandem, etc. It's just more my kinda thing.