Protomartyr
Ultimate Success Today


4.0
excellent

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
July 18th, 2020 | 94 replies


Release Date: 07/17/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: When fear steps into the light…

Ultimate Success Today’s lyrical content might have taken even the band by surprise lately. Despite finishing work on it last year, the album can very well be a soundtrack to 2020 so far. It feels quite relevant as it discusses several unfortunate social and political events, as well as daily struggles we all face. Front man Joe Casey seems more fed up than ever, painting an often appalling yet appropriate portrait of society today. He extracts his stories mainly from urban America, however, you can pinpoint the universally applying moral decay behind them. Musically, this is arguably the most mature and settled Protomartyr LP. The first half focuses on mid-tempo grooves mostly, each instrument smoothly wrapping around the others. For example, first single, ‘Processed by the Boys’ shares an infectious, start/stop rhythm that punches its way through. The guitar washes during the coda gradually evoke a certain defeated vibe that is sprinkled all over the album. The Sci-Fi scenario Casey develops slightly masks the increasing itch highly influential people and/or institutions have to gain power and more directly control the masses these days.

Adding to the overall picture is the inevitable detachment and ominous anxiety displayed on the moody opener, ‘Day without End’. The jazzy saxophone, courtesy of Jemeel Moondoc, introduced here plays a solid role to the uneasy atmosphere. ‘Tranquilizer’ further explores its sounds, building considerable tension. While the guys switch from volatile bass lines to full power bursts, Joe toys with painkillers and the love-hate relationship people have with them. Inspired by a personal health scare episode, the man was happy to ease the pain, even though it meant numbing him down (plus, the damage they cause in the long run to the body and brain). Moreover, on ‘Modern Business Hymns’ the vocalist melds paranoia, greed & segregation into a cynical mix over contrasting, militant chord progressions. The often cryptic lyrics are carefully layered, so you can interpret them in multiple ways. Same goes for ‘Bridge & Crown’, as well as ‘Worm in Heaven’, which expand the band’s sonic palette, boasting subdued moments, especially the latter. Degradation followed by death are main topics, initially viewed as something fearful, trying to avoid it as much as possible. Nevertheless, the inevitable happens, but you can take it literally or figuratively. That’s part of the record's lyrical charm.

Other themes tackled on Ultimate Success Today are the duality of human nature, being a victim & inflicting damage unto others as a person or part of the system. To accompany such bipolar subjects, Protomartyr have worked on dynamics, creating a wider array of sounds from sharp, noisy moments to cinematic, eerie segments. There is considerable depth, particularly lyrical, offering the listener a significant amount of brilliant content to dissect. It may not be the album some fans wanted, still, it is an important step forward in the band’s sonic journey and overall development.




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user ratings (161)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
July 18th 2020


5236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It feels like you could write 3 different reviews for this album, focusing on several aspects. The music is great, but the lyrics are the best part of it for me at the moment.



Stream here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE00MtUoDrA&list=OLAK5uy_mN5fykdLIBTjeKx7D-MsQJMX6C29MDg8Q

'Processed by the Boys' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBQy_S_k-qg

'Worm in Heaven' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jBayKVcc7s

'Michigan Hammers' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofXWdTjvDP4

Digging: Ozric Tentacles - Space for the Earth

Mort.
July 18th 2020


15177 Comments


Processed by the Boys is up there in best song titles of all time

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
July 18th 2020


5236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed! One of the best tunes of this year for me, I love it.

Mort.
July 18th 2020


15177 Comments


also id split the first paragraph up at some point cos right now its a pretty foreboding block of text but yeh great review band slaps etc

Mort.
July 18th 2020


15177 Comments


ahhhh, perfecto!

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2020


739 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review. personally this is the exact kind of album i wanted from these guys.

Digging: Jesu - Pale Sketches

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2020


5301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Great rev

alb is great but I think it can grow more on me

Digging: Georgie Sweet - Misunderstood

Ashtiel
July 18th 2020


1073 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Processed By the Boys" and "Michigan Hammers" are up there with their best songs I think.

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
July 18th 2020


5301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

^ yup, my fave cuts off this

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 18th 2020


36054 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I heard Processed by the Boys prior to the album dropping which is what convinced me to check this band out. Nothing here was quite as good but it does feel like it will grow.

Great review 👍

Digging: Bendrix Littleton - Deep Dark South

anatelier
July 18th 2020


3622 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Processed By The Boys, Michigan Hammers and the last three tracks are stellar

Digging: Andrew Wasylyk - Fugitive Light and Themes of Consolation

someone
July 18th 2020


1067 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

A lot of fantastic stuff.

Ebola
July 19th 2020


3875 Comments


this is so good. last song is incredible

MillionDead
July 19th 2020


2378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

How does this compare to Relatives in Descent?? Waiting to listen with a friend lol

Rowhaus
July 19th 2020


3771 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

album is ass

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2020


5236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Relatives in Descent sounds a tad more urgent and catchier overall than this one IMO, but both are excellent.



@Sowing - Thank you. Listen to Relatives in Descent and Under Color of Official Right, both are strong, more immediate records.

Green Baron
July 19th 2020


25123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I didn't think this was as good as Relatives in Descent

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2020


29263 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This has a lovely closing pairing, feel I should love the rest more. Great tones + noiz all round

Digging: Dntel - Life is Full of Possibilities

MillionDead
July 19th 2020


2378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I feel like The Agent Intellect is pretty urgent too. It's not like these guys ever really do fast either. Mid tempo and slow are their only two modes.

WeepingBanana
July 19th 2020


10609 Comments


Haven't listened to these guys since agent intellect but I might check this. Always loved seeing them live



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