Ever since Protest The Hero made their first splash in 1999, and released their first album, 2005′s “Kezia,” the band has be lauded as one of the top experimental metal bands (this side of Canada). With their frantic take on modern metal and their squirrelly live shows, the band has had no trouble stirring up attention in the states. Along with the release of their sophomore album “Fortress” which not only placed high on the Billboard top 200 (a feat almost unheard of outside the Canadian circles of Sum 41 and Nickelback), but was also featured on video games such as Guitar Hero II and NHL 2K9. The latest venture for this outspoken Vagrant Records-backed outfit, is their junior record, entitled “Scurrilous.” Which is no surprise given the band’s vulgar and raunchy modus operandi.
To me Protest The Hero has always felt like the Canadian version of the US’ progressive metal group The Human Abstract. Both have a deep love affair with franticly complex guitar compositions, both have vocalists that take pride in their showy vocals, and finally both acts released a new effort this month. And while I can say I enjoy both bands because of their informal creative abilities, Protest The Hero has truly stepped up with “Scurrilous,” where the previous band had not.
Starting with the outing’s themes, lead singer Rody Walker and bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi have both drawn heavy influences for the writing of this album, from people in their personal lives and inside experiences. I was half-expecting a concept album from this five-piece this time around, but when tracks like the addiction-centered “Hair-Trigger” roll out with a full compliment of layered guitars, Rody’s infamous 80′s metal vocals, and a tale of what must be a sex addition to an unnamed red-head who is “cold as ice,” you quickly realize there is surely nothing wrong with borrowing inspiration from your own life. Also the way the band has cryptically written themes into “Scurrilous” is refreshingly quizzical. Such as the potent lyrics from “Tapestry,” “Sometimes a knife right through your heart, is exactly what you need. Sometimes the things that you’re ashamed of, make you who you’re supposed to be,” which will soon have you sitting down with the album notes, milling over lyrics for other knowledge imparting one-liners. This record is fulled with them.
“Scurrilous” is one of the more technical albums I have heard all year. Luke Hoskin (lead guitarist) along with the backing of rhythm guitarist Tim Millar never call it quits, with melodic riffs that don’t settle for same-y power chords and always seem to taper off into manic detailed solos. Just listen to the wild fretwork on “Sex Tapes,” where string simplicity is thrown to the wolves and an avalanche of fast fingers and a contemplation of Friedrich Nietzsche’s work take over. Going through a pack of strings every show must be par for the course with Protest The Hero because everyone, including Arif and his furiously plucked basslines, is always playing at a fevered pace to match Rody’s flaired and impulsive voice. This is one big bottle of crazy.
Slip-ups are kept to a minimum. What are they, you ask? Well Rody’s voice can sound like he’s lungs deep in several inhales of helium at times, which is merely a distraction to the albums solid instrumental progression. But other than that and a few sound crowding issues (complexity is good, bunching up is bad) this record is stellar.
Protest The Hero has returned to us with an album that is less harsh and more technical, choosing a more mathcore route than their previous metal outings. Either way though, with talented guitars and an eccentric lead singer still at the helm, “Scurrilous,” with all it’s personal, well-written lyrics and top shelf fretwork, still puts forth some of the most rowdy and meaningful ten tracks I’ve heard from the band yet. [Staff]
Score: 4 (out of 5)
Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Record Label: Vagrant Records
1. C’est La Vie
7. The Reign Of Unending Terror
10. Sex Tapes
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