Protest The Hero


Written by: AP on 24/03/2011 21:12:32

Protest the Hero paradoxically take themselves very seriously and yet at the same time take nothing seriously at all. Everything from the heavy political slant and skill of musicianship, to the philosophical backdrop of their albums, shows a level of depth and forethought that belies the image of drunken goofballs that, through countless music videos, studio diaries and interviews, the band has labored to maintain. Indeed, that their third full length is titled "Scurrilous" is no coincidence: the album art is a 60-year-old painting by bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi's grandfather, Jafar Petgar, carrying the same title, and the slanderous definition of the word is a perfect summation of the attitude underlying the band's work.

Too raucous for progressive metal, and yet too disjointed to qualify as pop punk, Protest the Hero exist in a limbo of their own making. As such, consistency has become their trademark; one which "Scurrilous", too, proudly wears on its sleeve. It is an overtly technical affair that presents an impenetrable maelstrom of jagged time signatures, angular riffs and meandering leads obscuring an infectious gist. Now that vocalist Rody Walker has assumed responsibility for penning the band's lyrics (Arif's turf in the past), he has all but discarded the scream in favor of his semi-operatic falsetto, a choice which may irk those that loved the vocal spazz outs on the likes of "Bloodmeat", and taken things in a more sarcastic direction. Not surprisingly the result is a batch of songs that are not only catchy, but also more fun than their predecessors. Rather than dissect women's rights and pagan worship, songs like "C'est la Vie" and "Hair-Trigger" (which sees the return of Jadea Kelly, remembered as Kezia, for a guest spot) present the world from Rody's point of view.

All the while Luke Hoskin consistently employs the full breadth of his guitar neck to unleash one puzzling lead after the other. Forget all about traditional song structure - once Protest the Hero release a part it never returns; in its place comes another, even more jarring, yet never tedious, progressive part. The likes of "Tapestry" and "Dunsel" lead me to suspect that there is an ongoing wager in the band on who will be the first person to crack a section in 4/4, with each member attempting to throw the other off the ticker. "The Unending Reign of Terror" exhibits basic signs of convention, but in truest Protest the Hero fashion it, too, eventually barrels into rhythms inimitable; but the real gem here is "Sex Tapes", the consummate finale of the album (featuring Propagandhi's Chris Hannah), which sees the band lock into a bouncy groove and ultimately summon influences from the neo-classical era.

The stop-start dynamics and boundless song-writing might prove too baffling for casual listeners, but the amplified cacophony and youthful exuberance should be candy for fans of the band's previous work, particularly "Kezia". Granted, "Scurrilous" offers few surprises for those already acquainted with the band, but at the same time it consolidates Protest the Hero as a band with no contemporary rivals. Demanding, sometimes frustrating, it rewards the patient, but there are no easy singles for instant access.


Download: Hair-Trigger, Tandem, Tapestry, Dunsel, Sex Tapes
For the fans of: Between the Buried and Me, The Human Abstract, SikTh, We, the Undersigned
Listen: Myspace

Release date 22.03.2011
Vagrant Records

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