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Protest the Hero - Fortress CD (album) cover

FORTRESS

Protest the Hero

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.53 | 94 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I'm confused...

I really don't know what it was which I just heard. Now, that could be an interesting thing if that happened because I heard something terribly original and innovative. But when it happens because what I just listened to was a complete mess and chaotic, well, that can't be good.

PROTEST THE HERO was a new experience for me. I've never heard the band and had read some good comments so it was my duty to check them out. Sadly, the experience is really not that new, and this band's music is just a confusing mixture of elements taken from countless other bands.

The first problem I will mention with "Fortress" is the absolute lack of self-control this musicians display. I'm sure they can play, and with skills for that matter. But is it really necessary to play the entire album at about the same frantic, relentless, hyperactive speed? I have complained about music played only at slow tempos, and I think I've found just the opposite side of the same counterfeit coin. PROTEST THE HERO play all their songs at approximately the same speed or tempo, which is: neurotic, paranoid. They perform as if somebody was tailing them from behind with a knife and they just couldn't stop or their lives would be in danger. What's the point of this? I know there are genres that live on these principles (see grindcore) but as this music is hardly really extreme, we can't help but think the speed here is just a gimmick or the result of a desire to show-off skills. Sadly, skills don't create music. Skills enhance music performance but can ruin it if they become the focus.

The second problem I have is that, by any standards, PROTEST THE HERO doesn't belong in any genre, but not because they're original, but because they have a little bit of everything. The first thing you'll notice is the neurotic riffs. You'll think hardcore and extreme metal. But then you hear the vocal style, and you'll think on hardcore, hard-rock or even emo-punk. At moments the music borders on death-metal (there's even some growling going on here and there) and then suddenly we're just in the middle of a punk party. It's chaotic. The music wanders aimlessly without a clear sense of direction. Mixing genres is good. Not being an easy subject to categorize and fit in one single genre is good. Not knowing what the hell you're playing is bad.

The third problem I find with PROTEST THE HERO is that the lack of self-control and the lack of direction breed lack of coherence. Here we have music with no traditional structures (not a bad thing) but that at times seems to lack any structure at all! These songs are so difficult to grasp but not because they're deep or really intricate. It's the senseless riffing and irrational need for accentuating every single beat with double drums that create a noise where is quite a task to discern where things go. About the double drums remark: no, please, this is no MESHUGGAH. In that band, the drums are part of the musical machine, the constant double-drumming is a key element in the machine-like sound of the Swedish band: here in PROTEST THE HERO, it sounds just like the result of having taken too many energy drinks. And the whole album sounds like that: artificially invigorated, artificially energized.

My last and biggest problem with PROTEST THE HERO is how unoriginal the music is in the end. I can take music without self control, I can take music that doesn't define its essence, I can barely stand music without coherence. But when all of that is played with ideas and sounds that hardly seem original, then all goes downhill. The band sounds a little bit like COHEED AND CAMBRIA, a little bit like MUSE, a little bit like DREAM THEATER, a little bit like CYNIC, a little bit like MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, a little bit like SYMPHONY X, a little bit like THE MARS VOLTA, like IN FLAMES, MESHUGGAH, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, etc. You name it, it may be here. It may take me a big effort but if I apply myself, I may find some N'SYNC in here (well, not really... but then again, who knows.) At least the band is honest and recognizes the fact in their booklet, where they thank all "the bands whose stolen riffs appear on this record"(taken from the cd's booklet.) I don't believe in terms like ripping-off, I think music in itself is the art of copying and developing. But this band takes this too far. The real issue is that after all this salad of influences, we can't say that there is an end result that can be called the PROTEST THE HERO sound. There's no such thing.

If I don't give this album one star is because the playing is quite skillful, there are some good ideas scattered around the record, the interludes between songs are good (actually, the best moment in the whole record are the tracks in between tracks, which last about one minute each and appear as a countdown timer once each song ends and the next is about to begin), and, finally, the fact that the band had the good taste to make this album only a 41 minute experience. They showed great restraint in not over-indulging in the size of the whole thing.

If you want something like this but better, try THE HUMAN ABSTRACT, not a perfect band but one with a particular, original sound.

This has room, and LOTS of room to improve. After all, the musicians are skilled. Now they have to learn to create their own sound. Until then, I protest this hero.

The T | 2/5 |

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