Review Summary: Though vastly improved from their last effort, Protest the Hero are still annoying as hell.
Oh Rody Walker, you drunken, hollering bastard, I can’t figure out whether to embrace or dump you entirely. The years have not been kind to you and your cohorts, as in a most odd fashion you’ve regressed in your older ages. Like each Protest the Hero record, Kezia
was “fun.” But underneath all of that was a surprisingly mature little album. Full of feminist themes, the concept was unwieldy but entirely genuine, pulled off with the gusto of men well into their careers. But since then the music has become bland and the lyrics painfully ridiculous. Songs of bloodbaths and glory supplemented with some virtuosic instrumentation have been replaced by hackneyed metalcore breakdowns about booze and debauchery. It’s still fun, yes, but completely hollow; a sorry display by a band once wise beyond their years.
To judge Volition
based on what it isn’t
belittles the fact that it does indeed do a lot of neat things. Like always, Protest the Hero are full of energy. “Clarity” opens the record up with a constantly shifting tone, ranging from bombastic epic lines to quirky breakdowns. Rody is confident as hell, and the growls are a nice added touch. It feels a bit half-assed in that it reeks of Scurrilous
. And therein lies the issue, as Protest have stayed the course with the same uninspired, and at times obnoxious delivery. When the band isn’t chugging away they’re mindlessly masturbating sweeps that are predictable at each turn. It’s fast and there is certainly a lot going on, but it’s terribly boring. Of course there are a lot of dynamic shifts and tempo changes, but when the content is all the same everything bleeds together in a ludicrously messy fashion. At nearly any point in the record, there is but one volume level and boy is it loud. Whereas the Rody Walker of olden days would be all over the place, crooning one moment and tearing his throat out the next, the man heard on Volition
wails with reckless abandon. And that is really the sum of the album, standing as a piece of music where a lot goes on but nothing is really happening.
Shining moments pop in every now and again, namely the fantastic end of “Drumhead Trial.” The strong vocal interplay between Rody and the guest singer is impressive to say the least. Lofty lyrics toe the line of silliness, but it works. It’s an epic and satisfying conclusion to an otherwise forgettable song. “Plato’s Tripartite” is equally as appealing. Featuring less spastic shifts and some rather beautiful moments, the entire song feels like a much more naturally written piece of music. It is a damn shame more moments like this don’t present themselves, as the rest of Volition
plays it safe by being as loud and fast as possible. Too bad it doesn’t come together better as it merely buckles down into a messy heap of proggy tomfoolery.