Release DetailsLABEL Vagrant Records
RELEASED ON 1/29/2008
Protest The Hero
posted on 3/2008 By:
I like the idea of a band like Protest the Hero: a totally over the top hybrid of power metal, emo, and technical metalcore. That sounds dynamic enough to hold my attention in ways that none of those single genres do anymore. In practice, though, they fall just short of the mark. I think it's because, despite all the controversy that surrounds this band, Fortress is pretty straight forward fare.
In their attempt to do something new, Protest the Hero lift a bunch of old tricks from bands that have approached this style for a long time. Most songs seem to feature at least one bridge where the rhythm guitar player will strum away at this really triumphant progression and the lead guitar player will lay down some technical arpeggio over it; on top of that the singer will belt out a soulful and heartfelt melody. That … I guess … is pretty crazy for a metalcore band? The vocals range from raspy screams to death metal belches to poppy emotional crooning. However, it’s never as indulgent or catchy enough to warrant repeated guilty pleasure listens. The riffing is tight. It's either jagged and kind of clinical a la Between the Buried And Me or high-octane Gothenburg stuff with lots of hammer-ons and pull-offs and all those other 15 year-old tricks that still turn me on.
Erg, here's the thing. I was expecting this album to be a totally insane shit-show; and I was psyched for that. And, really, it's not that at all. I mean, it's definitely technical and the focus on melodic vocals give this album a flavor you don't hear every day, but I really have a hard time giving a shit about this album after the first couple of songs. As talented as these guys are, the guitar players rely pretty heavily on moves that I find hacky. How many times can you rail-off a quick little scale run, stop, then change tempos? Honestly, it's hard to stay dug-in after hearing the band go to the same well so many times.
Here's how it boils down. In trying to serve so many styles, Protest the Hero aren’t really doing justice to any. But, that’s not even the biggest problem, because as I'd said before I appreciate the risk they're taking. I honestly wish this had been ... I don't know ... somewhat of a more spectacular failure. Instead, the songs sound like bland hybrids with some cool guitar parts thrown in.
I'll take you through my impressions of a song I find pretty indicative of this album and see if that helps.
0:00 - 0:26 Okay, so we're gonna start off with a really glorious melody over a resounding chord progression, kind of already did that on the last few songs but that's ok...
0:26 - 0:52 Here's the riff. I will not remember how this riff goes when the song is over. Bad.
0:52 - 1:02 Oh man, this riff is great! I'm glad they only played it for seven seconds.
1:02 - 1:45 This is an uninteresting transition.
1:45 - 1:58 The singer is kind of like half whispering half singing over noodling keyboards. How does that sound to you. YOU LIKE THAT KIND OF SHIT!
The rest of the song has more of those really hard to play, hard to remember what they sounded like riffs. It eventually explodes into a whispy cloud of triumphant guitar-stroking fuckle.
I do not recommend this album. As "daring," as this concept may sound, Protest the Hero have managed to pull it off in a way that is boring.
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