Protomartyr
The Agent Intellect


4.0
excellent

Review

by butcherboy USER (123 Reviews)
April 1st, 2017 | 33 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Leave your children in the car...

By all accounts, Protomartyr pay their dues. Formed in 2008, the band spent four years making the rounds on Detroit’s inexhaustible small-venue circuit, before putting out their debut “No Passion All Technique” on Michigan’s Urinal Cake Records. The album, a lean, brawny slab of post-punk, was a brutalized love letter to Motor City, as bare and stalwart and grim as the town’s bleak, post-Automotive Decline persona itself.

By “Under the Color of Official Right,” the band’s second album, their sound got thicker and more circumferent. The songs on that record rolled over the listener as a viscid curtain, throwing in jagged jabs from all sides. The writing got tighter and the lyrics walked an unchanged footpath. Half-spoken, half-barked hymns to a dysphoric working-class everyman, crude and curdled in a ‘Work-Bar-Bed’ paradigm, far too often alone with his thoughts for his own good.

The two albums show a methodical progression; one that today’s young bands too often forgo for a quick spark-and-fade. Protomartyr cut their teeth, and then began a gradual attack. Their debut was a strong record. Their second was better and tougher, more expansive, with the band standing on sturdier ground. By that design, the third one should be where they kick you in the teeth with a great one. They don’t disappoint.

“The Agent Intellect” feels raw and cauterized at once, an ambit of incendiary punk songs, as wiry as the best on “No Passion,” and as stifling as “Official Right” at its most claustrophobic. With only a handful of songs reaching the four-minute mark, there is not a hell of a lot of fat on this record, and the band make the most of what they leave in. If Joe Casey’s atonal delivery sometimes clashed against the music on their debut, creating stiff turns, he finds all the right grooves here, making tracks like “I Forgive You” and “Uncle Mother’s” catchier than the sinister subject matter has a right to be.

The bass-work here is a particular portent. Fractured and pulsing, it lurks into your spine and doesn’t let up. Evil has never been so danceable. In several instances, the fretwork reaches for dreamily atmospheric heights, and closer “Feast of Stephen” and single “Dope Cloud” sounds the way shoegaze might have, had its patrons been binging on Ritalin instead of Percocet’s. They’re translucent and paranoid and rather than professing prosaic death, opt for death from life’s monotonous grind instead.

The electronic fragments of “Agent Intellect” show Protomartyr’s biggest growth. They sound fleshier than and not quite as pummel-ready as “Official Right.” Instead of thudding over the melodies, they enclose around them, filling what few cracks the bare instruments leave, creating songs that sound so airtight, they smash through you like a gauzy sledgehammer.

“Ellen” is the longest cut here, and at six-plus minutes is the longest song Protomartyr have released so far. It’s interesting to see them play around with broader parameters, and though they never get out of first gear here, they let the song breathe, Casey chanting the chorus all the way through, while a noise guitar warbles in the background.

As exciting as it is to hear the band sound so stellar and sure, what’s more exhilarating is waiting to hear where they’ll go next. There’s yet to be a dud in their small discography, and plenty of ground for them to cover, if they choose to continue polishing this winning formula of a winning streak. As long as the dingy ghost of Detroit continues to hang over them, here’s hoping that these guys won’t lose their grisly muse.



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user ratings (170)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
butcherboy
April 1st 2017


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Really surprised this beaut didn't have a review already..

Chortles
April 1st 2017


21494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice one, great album. hoping they'll put out another one sometime soon

Divaman
April 1st 2017


6642 Comments


I never heard of this band before. Pos.

Digging: Ayreon - Transitus

butcherboy
April 1st 2017


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cheers guys..



Divaman, they're essentially what Joy Division would have sounded like, had they been working at a steel plant in Michigan.. hahaha.. definitely worth checking out..

Sinternet
April 1st 2017


23182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh yeah good album nice

Digging: Holy Fawn - Death Spells

Divaman
April 1st 2017


6642 Comments


OK. Sounds interesting.

TheWrenKing
April 1st 2017


1696 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice review boyo !

butcherboy
April 1st 2017


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks

DoofusWainwright
April 1st 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Will check this, top review

butcherboy
April 1st 2017


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers, doof.. Are you doing low life lullabies soon?

Evok
April 1st 2017


8231 Comments


Sweet review! Pos

Digging: The Who - Live In Hyde Park

DoofusWainwright
April 1st 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm on me hols for two weeks over Easter so I'll be taking a three week or so break from writing.



I will pick up copies of 'Lullabies', 'A Dream Turns Sour', 'The Sea' and maybe 'Bouquet of Vegetables' next, then see which grabs me to review first.



I will complete the discog review though, guaranteed. Will probably take me until the end of summer I guess.

butcherboy
April 1st 2017


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks, evokaphile..



doof- have a good rest, you deserve it after this tiger lilly marathon..

Hovse
April 2nd 2017


2727 Comments


Good shit

literallyzach
April 2nd 2017


520 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oooh this needed a review. Going to revisit tonight

TwigTW
April 2nd 2017


3829 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"The two albums show a methodical progression; one that today’s young bands too often forgo for a quick spark-and-fade." . . . so true. I'd forgotten all about these guys, so this is a nice reminder to spin them again. Great review, as always.





butcherboy
April 2nd 2017


9464 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers, Twig.. This band is yet to put a bad one for me..

literallyzach
April 3rd 2017


520 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This album didn't impress me that much this time around

JWT155
April 3rd 2017


14670 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Underrated album.

Deathconscious
August 20th 2017


25329 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i sort of like this on first listen. feels like a grower.

Digging: Blood and Sun - Love & Ashes



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