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Protest the Hero - Scurrilous CD (album) cover

SCURRILOUS

Protest the Hero

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.48 | 58 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Scurrilous' - Protest The Hero (5/10)

In the past, I have often used this band as an example of the flash-over-substance mentality that quite a bit of progressive metal has. Admittedly, I briefly liked what the band had to offer when I was first introduced to them, but it was not too long before I realized that they had a 'twinkie' mentality to their music; being that it looked it on the outside, but as soon as I dug a little deeper, it was clear that there wasn't all too much to hold my interest. I would never deny that the band are very skilled musicians, and with their third offering 'Scurrilous', they are still dragged down by some issues that have been stinging since their inception.

'Scurrilous' essentially picks up where the band's second album 'Fortress' left off and offers some more of the same, with few developments to speak of. For the most part, this is an improvement over Protest's generally sporadic and irritating sophomore, and while there are none of the same standout tracks that 'Fortress' was only partially redeemed by, 'Scurrilous' is a much more consistent record, and somewhat emphasizes what I liked about them beforehand. In terms of what I like about Protest The Hero, the list begins and ends with the guitars. Tim Miller and Luke Hoskin are phenomenal musicians, and 'Scurrilous' is a virtually unrelenting showcase of their skills, delivering riff upon impressive riff of distinct arpeggios and progginess aplenty. While I may not be nearly as enthusiastic about any other quality of the band, the guitars are essential enough to the sound of 'Scurrilous' that it becomes something of a decent listen, and could have even been a brilliant one, were it not for some painfully unpleasant aspects in their sound.

The lesser of the two main concerns I have with the sound of Protest The Hero is the songwriting. While there are plenty of awesome riffs and technically sound moments for listeners to be dazzled by, the way things are structured doesn't give any sense of drama or tension, or even a slight sense of build up. While the unrelenting technicality and speed of the album is not necessarily a bad thing in of itself, the is little dynamic here, and even within the context of a song itself, the ideas rarely compliment each other. The songwriting always feels rhapsodic and without direction. The songwriting is far from the worst aspect of Protest The Hero's sound however.

The thing that really kills Protest The Hero for me are the vocals of Rody Walker, whose adolescent howl has put me off virtually from square one. Although gifted with an admittedly impressive vocal range, the sound of his voice doesn't pass me as being much more than an angry whine, and his voice has an irritating sense of vibrato to it that I can only interpret as the vocal equivalent of television static. Walker's voice exemplifies why I cannot like this band; he warbles every note to the point of overindulgence, and when it comes to the actual sound of his voice, it is fairly shallow, despite his obvious ability to go wherever he wants with his delivery. Not to mention that the vocals are paired with some equally irritating lyrics; while Protest The Hero's lyrics here are somewhat better than they were with 'Fortress' and are at times even witty, it is ironic that the times when Rody enunciates the words most clearly are the times when he decides that swearing is the only way to express his youthful angst. Of course, like anything, so-called 'bad language' can be used appropriately and powerfully, but here, it almost feels like they are trying to force the words in, in order to get some sort of badass credibility they would otherwise be lacking. The result is fairly laughable.

As one can likely tell within one paragraph of this review, I do not like Protest The Hero. While they are all skilled and flashy, the technical wankery does not tend to work in their favour when they don't have much else to back it up with. Luckily however, 'Scurrilous' earns points for me, even if only because it is a great step up from 'Fortress'. There is also some brilliant guitar work here, and I could easily see 'Scurrilous' being a surefire winner for me if it were kept a purely instrumental album. As it stands though, the good elements here are only somewhat worth bearing with the negative.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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