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Protest the Hero

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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5 stars w00t! Protest the Hero arrives on the archives! May I be the first to implore you to check them out immediately? Thank You!

Check them out immediately!

With Fortress, Protest the Hero continue to execute their vision of progressive metal/hardcore/punk. This music is fast, technical, melodic, emotional, unpredictable and awesome! Those same adjectives can describe their debut, Kezia, but when comparing the two, for this new release, you can add the word more to the beginning of each of those adjectives (except for fast, where you will add an "er" directly to the end of the word). You can tell there's more emphasis on the tech-metal element of their music here. The heaviness and thrash-metal sound are given more free-reign on these tracks in addition to the increased technicality, but it never feels like too much to handle. Everything is just right.

Protest the Hero avoids formulaic structures without compromising coherence. Songs may have choruses, but they are amongst a barrage of other riffs and hooks in a seemingly random order. But it all flows ever so perfectly! It's all calculated and performed with precision matched by only a small group of their peers.

The pieces are short, but with songs like these, you don't need more time. As before, the album is divided up into three parts, separated with soft interludes (the only breaks you'll get). The band takes more advantage of their musical muscle as can be evidenced by the constant use of sweep progressions, tapped lines by the guitars and bass, and plenty of syncopated riffs. The vocals have improved as well; Rody's range and personality have been greatly expanded. It's amazing how much is happening here especially while there is a melody being sung. It never feels cluttered or pretentious. The band also gives us a taste of their quirkier side. Besides adding some simply fun riffs into the mix here and there, the end of the interlude occurring at the dead center of the record (in the middle of the second part, right after "Palms Read") can be described as "circus metal."

Along with such groups as Between the Buried and Me and The Dillinger Escape Plan, Protest the Hero reside on the upper echelon of tech/extreme progressive metal. They aren't as experimental, but their compositional skills are so beyond the typical band that it more than justifies their inclusion. In this genre, it's a difficult to make truly stunning and long-lasting music. Fortress provides such music which is immediately gratifying and only gets better over time. Wow, just wow.

Report this review (#168471)
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Finally Protest the Hero has been added to Progarchives. I've been waiting for this since I first heard their debut Keiza in 2006. A truly incredible and unique band. What can be said about this remarkable album, their debut blew me away but with Fortress they have gone to a whole new level. The music is full of insanely technical musicianship, but at the same time remaining incredibly melodic and catchy. So far this is my leading contender for album of the year, it will take something quite monumental to top this.
Report this review (#168491)
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars As with everyone else i am super psyched that PTH has been added to PA. Though i was not as impressed by this release as i was by Kezia it is still an incredible album, just slightly lower because Kezia is AMAZING. on this album Rody looked back at Kezia and said he wanted to replace the poppy [&*!#] with faster crazier stuff and i think he succeeded. Though the album does not have as well defined of a concept as Kezia it still has a centralized theme. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.
Report this review (#168512)
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars This is must be an acquired taste. I could only listen to the album once. Any more and my ears would have started to bleed. The songs have no structure whatsoever.....which would be fine, if the music within the lack of structure were good. But alas, they are not. It sounds too much like 'System of a Down' which is just as bad. I'm just glad they're not featured on the site.

First off, the lead singer (I shall make this as respectful as I can) spends more time screaming and yelling then he does actualy singing. Now granted, screaming and yelling in music is not my taste, but I just can't listen to it. I might be able to listen to the music if it was purely instrumental, but the singer makes my ears bleed.

On the plus side.....the ONLY one I could the guitarist is really good. He has a gift that needs to be shared with the world; but not in this band. It hurts me to see such great talent fall in such feeble ways.

The drummer needs to tone down, it's just way too fast and you can't get into the music. If this album took some of the ideas and sounds, lengthened them and just took it for a walk, some of the songs might have been adquit. But really.....the songs are way too short (not such a bad thing though, I coulnd't wait for these songs to end) change way too rapidly for the listener to get into, and the vocals are so painful, your throut hurts just listening to it.

I really don't know what else to say. I can't make myself listen to this album again to find other things to write about. I honestly don't know how it's getting such popular reviews. If this is where progressive music is going, stop the bus, I need to get off.

The only star I can give this album is to the guitarist. If I could, I would leave it at a 0/5, but one star must be awarded to the album, which I give only to the guitarist.

Report this review (#168799)
Posted Saturday, April 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Comparing this band to 'System of a Down' might seem a bit out of place. Sure, they're a contemporary band, they're style is chaotic and they're really loud. PTH however is muscially superior to SoaD.

The vocalist of PTH is awesome. His range is amazing. Ranging from clean vocals, to death grunts, to screamo. He does it all and live he's quite a performer. The other musicians are great too especially the guitar player and the drummer.

The music makes me want to put them in the same category as SikTh, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Between the Buried and Me. The big difference is that PTH sounds like these bands put on speed. Eclectic seems to be the right word. Might just be the best prog metal release of the year... over to you Opeth!

Report this review (#168899)
Posted Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars Not usually a one star tagger of anything. And it's not that I don't like this genre. In fact I don't. I'm capable of recognizing talent outside my musical tastes. I'm not at all pleased that this is now considered prog. To me prog pushes boundaries. Just because the bassist plays arpeggios and the drummer throws in some syncopations and polyrythms it's prog? Shouldn't there be some respectable technical level in a prog musician? This is just another System of a Down clone w/o the skill. It's as if some kids who have each been playing a few years got recorded by a slick producer. This was painfully bad stuff and I'm a little pissed off that I have to wonder how many more like this I might click on when I see a five star review in my PA newsletter.
Report this review (#168930)
Posted Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Just the fact that Protest the Hero(PtH) finaly has gotten here makes me want to tag this as a five star, but I will try not to get carried away, because we are talking about the album after all.

Fortress is, all in all, a pretty damn solid performance from every member in the band. The musicmanship is top notch, all of these guys know their stuff and they all deliver something tasty to the record. PtH's sound is what really gets me going, it's just so damn powerful and full joy of playing. And I wish that all their albums lived up to the bands' potential. Sadly this is still not the case.

They've come a long way from Kezia, the overall sound is so much more solid and the melodies are even more catchy than before, the heavy's more heavy and it just has a more mature feel over it(if PtH are capable of ever being truly mature I am still not sure). But I find myself loosing interest after five or six songs, and that's where the problem lies. The album unleases a sonic onslaught onto you, and you either ride the wave or get crushed by... Or so it seems when Bloodmeat kicks off, but once I reach Spoils(Limb for Limb might revive you with the fantastic vocal opening, effect may vary) I'm thinking about pasta, birds and all sorts of things other than the music I'm hearing.

All in all I have to say this: I seriously LOVE PtH, I just wish they could make an album that was as good as the highlights on both Kezia and Fortress through and through.

3/5 stars(for the album, PtH is still a 5 star band)

Report this review (#168946)
Posted Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars Like to thank this site for bringing this artist to my attention, then again I would rather not thank this site for bringing this artist to my attention as it cost me bucks and I didnt enjoy this one little bit. This band are everything I dislike about modern prog of this subgenre they are a hybrid of everything I have heard before they have a few elements of pain of salvation only nowhere near as good they have technical chops of bands like spiral architect only much more forgettable (if that is possible) they lack melody the singer is a screamer who frankly wont shut up and sounds like he has mental issues or something ? No I waisted my time on these guys perhaps you could save your time as well if you are trusting of what I have to say. Thats all I cab say on this issue as for me I`m done with these clowns.
Report this review (#168977)
Posted Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars A project between System of a Down and Papa Roach!!! And technical!!!

I won't say this is not progressive at all, it has some progressive moments, but, come on, please, please, please, do not compare them with Between the Buried and Me, less with Spiral Architect!!! Please, be aware of this insane comparison, you could be hurt...

First, the weakest I've found, this album is totally lineal, in the sense that all the songs has the same form, no different textures, no different layers, everything is just about insane riffs, a drummer that seems to have an overdose of caffeine, and the worse... The singing... O please, this is not for me, I think this is not healthy... Screaming is not bad (i.e. Ephel Duath) but doing it without any sense or control, is very disgusting.

Second, the textures, the feeling of the album is very very commercial and new-metal (IMO). As I said, it's progressive, it's clear, but it sounds very commercial (10 four-minute tracks... I don't know, didn't like me). I don't know if this is something personal, but I can't stop thinking in the progressive version of System of a Down...

Now, to be fair, the album has a couple of good things (that's the reason for the two stars and not one). The technique here is clearly good. Some tracks includes great combinations of good guitar riffs and very interesting bass lines, but, again, just sometimes (mostly in the first 4 tracks). The drummer, in essence, is good, the great problem is the execution, definitively. Sometimes, when the guy relaxes a little bit, he lets his inner good drummer get out...

Hope for the next albums these guys reserve the SoaD and Papa Roach influences, and try to make something more approximate.

1.75 stars really

Report this review (#169021)
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
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.

Report this review (#170544)
Posted Saturday, May 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Trends in heavy music come in waves and Whitby, Ontario math-metal prodigies Protest the Hero (along with the constantly-trendsetting Atlanta sludge-progsters Mastodon) seem to be leading a new one: eccentric hipster frontman Rody Walker uses a melodic croon for the majority of the band's new record, Fortress (Underground Operations). While the stringed triple threat of guitarists Tim Millar and Luke Hoskin and bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi run the Dillinger Escape Plan-Between the Buried and Me gamut a thousand times better than any of the imitators, it is Walker's urgent warble that elevates Protest the Hero to the upper echelon of progressive metal. His voice sounds like the hell-spawned child of Strapping Young Lad mastermind and fellow Canucklehead Devin Townsend's snarl and the honey-throated weirdness of the Mars Volta frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala. While other bands seem to fear melodically singing, Walker embraces it and clearly has the necessary range and cojones for the job. Then there are the songs: ten thinly sliced pieces of tech-metal greatness, never overstaying their welcome yet never becoming contrived. From the vicious and practically even structured opener "Bloodmeat" to the emotional high water mark of one-two punch closing opus "Goddess Bound" and "Goddess Gagged", Protest the Hero grab you by the throat and refuse to let go, save for the occasional melodic piano bit or introspective soliloquy. Earlier this year in these very pages I decried The Mars Volta's new epic, The Bedlam in Goliath, as a prog-for-the-sake-of-prog exercise in self-indulgence (or something to that effect), and I'm sure my love for this album will get me called a hypocrite by those in the know. My only answer is that the Mars Volta wrote an eighty-minute album with the same ethic as Protest the Hero's forty-minute record. Well, that and the fact that the Mars Volta descended even deeper into their nonsensical, ego-stroking lyrical ramblings, whereas Rody Walker turned in one of the finest lyrical performances of the millennium with his scrawled verses on Fortress, but that's another rant for another time. Simply put, if you consider yourself a fan of technical metal in the vein of the Dillinger Escape Plan, Between the Buried and Me, and Cephalic Carnage, a fan of old-school tech-death such as Death, Atheist, and Cynic, or simply someone with an open mind who wants to hear one of the most interesting and best heavy records of the year, you would be doing yourself a favor to give Fortress a spin. It won't be your last.
Report this review (#170932)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I really like this album. Very Technical and progressive, in my opinion. The vocalist is a little different, but I actually like that he mostly sings in the music,and he screams, but his voice has grown on me. Awesome that one of the members of Dragonforce appears on the album. This is one of my favorite albums of 2008 so far. Really can as a surprise. Awesome album!!!!
Report this review (#172206)
Posted Sunday, May 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Actually it's 4.5

I guess their entry on progarchives was very contested by some. I was surprised. But now that I've listened to the album more than 40 times, I can say that they own a spot on

This album from start to finish has a strong tendency of making the listeners just rip off everything around them and at the same time, just listen closer and again and again.

1- Bloodmeat: Probably the best track on the album for me, not on first listen. It just keeps on coming with great vocals and musicality. 9.5/10

2- The Dissentience: Strong track that requires a few listens, not to like but to understand. They just keep changing the music for the same vocal parts. That sounds a little prog to me. 8/10

3- Bone Marrow: A track that I thought would be weak. The more I listen to it, it becomes more and more interesting. Once again great vocals and the piano ending is great. 8/10

4- Sequoia Throne: WOW! What a song! It just blew my head off! The bass tracks are great, the taping is amazing and the musicality is just amazingly built. Straight edge song that deserves quite a few listens with loudness! 9/10

5- Palms Read: Another great track with a different ending. A kind of smoother and more emotional ending which we didn't hear on this record before. But the icing on the cake for me comes at the very end. The 1 minute instrumental ending of this song is simply off the hook! These guys can really compose great heavy riffs that just blend together on a great drum pattern! 9.25/10

6- Limb From Limb: Good song, nothing very spectacular, until dragonforce keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov kicks in with a different kick with a keyboard solo. 8/10

7- Spoils: Track that I always underestimated, it is just so intense with a great power, but everytime I listen it seems like it's missing something, maybe longer would have done the job. But still a great song with always nice playing that they are able to do! 7.5/10

8- Wretch: Nice track, nothing fancy like the others, until they surprised me in the solo section with a pattern that reminded of Dream Theater. That's when I decided to listen closer and it became evident to me that they seem to enjoy this type of prog music and can take a good influence out of it and compose a song that reflects it without copying! 8.5/10

9-10: Goddess Bound/Gagged: These two I didn't stick on as the others, because it seems they couldn't refresh what they have done, and it is just starting to look like the other songs on the album. But still great playing as usual and a great sole on Goddess Bound. Track 10 I definitely think is not a track that lives up to the hype of the album to be a closer. 8-7/10

Overall, a great album, heavy, not too much, a little prog, fits nicely in a collection of heavy/rock/metal/core prog fans!

Report this review (#173515)
Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I picked this gem up for 7.99$ a few weeks back, and now I'm helplessly addicted.

These guys are from Whitby, Ontario, where I lived once and have been many times. These guys seem like such a cool bunch, specifically the bass player. But, i'm not here to judge their looks.

Bloodmeat, or Meatloaf as I call it, is just a thrashy piece of music that doesn't really appeal to me as it once did. But, if it wasn't for this song, I would have ever discovered these guys. It was obviously made purposely as a single. (7/10)

The Dissentience! Starts off heavy as hell and follows through with some mathcore riffs. Sweeet. Tnen it goes into trancy odd timed weird guitar lead...section? I don't know how to explain it. But it's very good. Definitely one of the best on the album. (9/10)

Bone Marrow starts off very dark with an aura of darkness, that I can only relate the Sleepy Hollow cover. Then the aura vanishes into a shorud of thrashing metal. Yay? I love metal, but this is sort of repetitive and annoying. But this song is saved by blazing vocals and great bass playing. (8/10)

Wow, mathcore? Sequoia Throne is vocally painful but the guitar line is so mathy and harmonic, it kills me. This song is very great and adds onto to the mysteriousness of the album. The lyrics, OH the lyrics. Hell Bent On Heaven GENIUS. Great stuff. (9/10)

This song, Palms Read, is pretty metal from the start but the out of nowhere becomes this weird neo classical (not really) chorus line that surprised me. Then it morphs back into its metal trash, but the vocals are astonishing. It's like a teeter-totter with the vocals. Ends very poppy and mainstream like, but what comes after is not mainstream in any manner. This short, one minute instrumental, I say, reminds me of Dream Theater in two ways: The adding of spoken lines from movies and the clown music played midway through the short instrumental. This song is great! (10/10)

There's not much breathing room between Limb From Limb and the last song, which I normally dislike, but it's done so perfectly here I LOVE IT. The song starts off promising, but doesn't really develop too much. The only high point is the keyboard solos, from Dragonforces own Vadim Pruzhanov. Glad to see him contribute to something that isn't awful beyond recognition. This song isn't all that good though, it's just a thrashfest. (7/10)

Spoils! Starts off nice and neo classical again, (can't explain it), then their punk influence shows and fades behind some maginficient guitar playing and nice bass lines. Swearing, guitars and double bass. Tell me again how this is prog? OH YEAH! The insane musicianship and odd time signatures. Ends as quickly as it began, but is one of the best of the album. Nice piano ending also. (9/10)

Wretch, starts off pure metal, with some slow blastbeats, but with some awesome lyrics. This song doesn't shine too much other than great vocals. Vocals and lyrics are the winner here, other than some interesting time signatures. Other parts include: Cats meowing, Computer generated Death vocals and a crappy ending! (8/10)

Goddess Bound! Starts off heavy and very dreadful, with one of the most annoying vocal lines on the album. But it begins to roll, slowly but surely. The drums are the winner in this song with nice fills and quick playing. Turns into another thrash fest with some double bass madness and nice guitar/bass unisons. Overall nice song, ending in another instrumental. Not as good as the first though. (8.5/10)

Goddess Gagged! This is the best off the album, starting off with nice guitar playing. Nice sections throughout, this song doesn't dissappoint, this is the band at their best. Great singing and amazing playing all around. Then, it begins to morph into this progressive, odd timed metal epica section for a few seconds. Blew me out of my seat. The ending is as good as the rest of the song, mainly thrashing but quality thrashing at that. The bass playing is so wicked, the ending put me to give this album four stars, great stuff and quality playing.

Report this review (#173633)
Posted Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Protest the Hero - 'Fortress' 2.9 stars

The band clearly did not accelerate much at all after a debut with a little bit of promise.

The opener 'Bloodmeat' is the best thing they have ever done in my opinion. This is one of the only songs where the instrumentation is good and flowing throughout the track until they hit a chorus that managed to be catchy this time. Sadly, all the other songs are doing a terribly poor job in execution. The music once again sounds like a band just pasting together lines and riffs and then try to just throw in a catchy chorus that they believe can just merit all the faults in the entire work.

With the kind of promotion they can get, it makes it possible to do this on uninformed MTV watchers.

Report this review (#190261)
Posted Sunday, November 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
4 stars I was recommended this album by a Fall Of Troy fan, she said it was pretty progressive. I didn't expect much of it, coming from a fan of Fall Of Troy, and band which I don't particularly like. So I asked to borrow it instead of splashing out about 10 big ones on a CD I might not even like. The conclusion to this short parable is that I still haven't given the record back. I enjoy it so much, it is actually situated on the middle part of my CD shelf so as I can reach it easily, right next to all my Opeth CDs, Destroy Erase Improve, Chaosphere, Colors and various other classic metal albums.

At a glance, this seems like another Post-Hardcore album, a la Fall Of Troy. But by the second spin I realised just how incredible this band truly is. The virtuosity, the technicallity, the tasteful melody cuts and the riffs... They are all top notch. It's also worth mentioning that there is no strong/weak track at all on this album. It flows beautifully from track 1 to track 10. It's simply one of those albums. It has a concept album feel where all the songs seem to merge into each other - not absent to the help of special effects however.

Some may dispute about the vocals on this album. I do not. They are perfect actually, the singer reminds me a little of Cedric Bixler from The Mars Volta, one of my favourite vocalists. However, like Cedric, Protest The Hero are an acquired taste in the vox department. Like Guiness, Marmite and all other black foods and drinks, you either love them or hate them. I love them, and I'm sure most of the ProgArchives community will too. I have to say as well that the voices in Fortress fit the lyrics almost perfectly. Listen out for them: you will see what I mean. The semi-aggressive, semi-melodic style adopted by the vocalists is the perfect mould for the themes celebrated in this album.

That is about it for me. This is second best album of the year, next to Traced In Air at the top spot. If you are a fan of Extreme Metal, then you should go out and buy this album. If you are not, then you should give it some time. It will take you around 30 listens to get used to the vocals style and its heaviness, but you will not turn back. You have my word. Not a masterpiece, but let's face it: those are hard to come by nowadays. 4 stars from me.

Report this review (#194952)
Posted Wednesday, December 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 'Bloodmeat' tears open this 5-pieces' second release with a hungry delivery from Luke Hoskins and Tim Millar's guitars, Rody Walker's impassioned vocals and relentlessly tight rhythm section of Mirabdolbagh & Carlson. Hoskins and Millar work their clever lines broken up by subtle jazz chords as it transitions into partner 'The Dissentience', both cuts excellent samples of the aggressive/melodic approach the group takes. Tech-ier than Opeth and angrier than Spiral Architect, Protest the Hero are clearly contenders and Fortress is a balanced and consistent record full of material that, if not terribly original, is of high quality.

Four of the five members sing, providing a wide range of vocal options that the band utilizes with drama, feeling and precision, and the whole album is strung together quite well. At 5&1/2 minutes 'Bone Marrow' is the longest piece here, building on the sound established with further progressions and massive crusades against enemies. The pressure is kept on for 'Sequoia Farm', splendidly invoking Rob Halford and the Priest with much love as well as slight whiffs of the Volta now and then. Senti-metal 'Palms Read' and progmetal masterwork 'Limb From Limb', a ravenous cut featuring more Preist-like affectations, real nice melodies and Vadim Pruzhinov's keys. Killer 80s-style thrash on 'Spoils' and the energy and ideas keep coming in 'Wretch', 'Goddess Bound' and 'Goddess Gagged'. One or two of these songs could have been cut but that's a small price to pay for a good record, and if given a few honest listens I can't see it disappointing too many progmetalheads. At least not the ones with a big tent.

Report this review (#202459)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I am first and foremost a progressive metal fan. I have been a fan of the genre for around seven or eight years now, starting with tool and then discovering many other great bands that have enhanced my musical experience and influenced my playing style as a guitarist.

A five star rating is not to be taken lightly, and I believe that Fortress fits the bill as a masterpiece of progressive metal. On the first listen, the punk influences are very apparent, particularly in the vocals of Rody Walker. If you are not a fan of the vocals, I strongly recommend listening to the instrumental version of this album on a good pair of headphones. The subtleties and nuances in the compositions are much more audible in the instrumental version.

From beginning to end, this album packs the punch of extremely technical melodies, powerful and crunchy riffs, and sometimes beautiful piano and acoustic passages. The song Limb from Limb even features a brief and extremely fast midi/video game melody, going back to PTH's roots when they posted midi versions of their songs on their web page so they could not yet be judged for their developing musicianship.

There are now a total of four singles released on the album: Bloodmeat, Sequoia Throne, Palms Read and Spoils. The two latter singles are probably a better indication of the album as a whole, and there are a total of 10 songs and a runtime of just over 40 minutes. If I could say one negative thing about the album, it is the short songs and overall length of the album.

Protest the Hero is almost constantly touring, so it amazes me that they would have time to put together such an epic album. This a testament to their commitment to career as musicians, rather than just a "band". The guitar duo reminds me of Marty Friedman and Jason Becker from Cacophony, with a more polished sound and better production.

There is not a dull moment on this album, which is why I am surprised that this album is not rated much higher. If you enjoy technical and well composed guitar work, versatile vocals, impressive drumming and cool bass lines, then Fortress should be on the top of your list for albums to check out.

Tool, Dream Theater, Opeth and Pain of Salvation better watch out, because Protest the Hero is only at the beginning of what looks to be a very bright career.

Report this review (#226544)
Posted Monday, July 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I cannot believe how such a splendid record as this is given such poor reviews.It really is sad to see that he main reason why people downgrade this diamond in the rough is that they don't think it's "progressive" enough.What kind of a comment is that?I am aware that I'm saying this on a prog site, but geez, sometimes I think that we are so full of it that we just don't give things a well-deserved break.But enough of us.I'm giving this record four stars simply because it sounds INCREDIBLE,not because I don't think it's not "progressive" enough.And I'm glad that it really isn't because this genre can become so bloated most of the time.This album just feels so right when I listen to it.It moves me and steals my attention like no other.I'm not that much into hardcore musical genres but I am very well able to recognize good tunes when I hear them.And this album has it!

First off,if people were not to call this any type of progressive metal then may I ask what genre they are then?Trying to give this band a certain genre is like trying to give Primus a genre,you would just sound stupid trying.So if people think that this alum is not progressive metal then they probably are right because this album "progresses" beyond progressive metal.And thank god for that since progressive metal nowadays just doesn't have it anymore.It is without a doubt more or less the same generic packaging heard on most progressive albums.

But this album,this one took me by a surprise that can only be obtained by hearing something truly strange and awesome like the Cardiacs or Mr. Bungle.I figured that this album would not be such a leap in music but man I am so wrong.Not only does this album evolve,but it also absorbs the chops that made other genres so much fun to listen to.I just can't believe how a human being cannot have fun listening to an album like this.It has so much energy,musicianship,complexity,harmony of dissonance and consonance,and at times sheer beauty.It has the attitude of punk,the unexpected twists of avant garde music,the virtuosity of prog,the short momentum bursts of jazz,and the heaviness of metal.Need I say more?

All songs on this album encompass everything I have said in the last paragraph, so not one song feels out of place at all.It simply feels wonderful when traveling through this album because the songs flow with such ease by and by.Perhaps the only reason why I do not give this album a complete five stars is because there seems to be no "resting place" within the album!In fact,this band is so supercharged with energy that one can get almost to the point of exhaustion listening to this album start to finish.It would have been great to have had at least one relaxed song so the listener can catch their breath.

On a more technical scale,the guitars throughout are heavily distorted and are sometimes accompanied by very nice subtle keyboard work within the layers (take for example the horns in the song "bloodmeat" and choral effects on various tracks.Sometimes this distortion is layered on slower parts where both guitarists flow with each other in rhythm and chord progression. The drums must be of some wood because they are darker in tone and have less sustain,and the cymbals are both natural bright and dark-flavored.So overall,the drums can easily be heard without cutting through the band entirely.The guitars make up most of the wall of sound here and throughout some parts both explode into intertwining solos.Sometimes these solos are more hidden in the noise throughout the songs and you have to have a good ear to point them out.Othertimes they are VERY much heard.But keep in mind (and this is a huge plus for me) that these solos don't feel like they're just pasted onto the song just so the guitarists can show off.No,these solos actually are a part of the song!Even the bass has its spotlight in a few short but sweet moments.One thing that has always been enjoyable for me to hear on this album is that not only are the guitars and drums everywhere,but so is the bass!Just listen to that bassist effortlessly flow with his own subtle solos throughout each track.They can sometimes be hard to hear but it's a real treat!Lastly,the vocalist is just insane.His vibrato isn't too bold,it's just right.And sometimes he utilizes distortion effects to help aid him when he shrieks or screams.Most of the time it's just his plain voice that energetically flows along with the instruments.

I wish I could have made a more elaborate review but I have work to do and I think that everyone should have the picture by now.This album for me was definitely worth the money and I am close to wearing this baby out.Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a nice afternoon with a great SOLID album.

Prog?Probably not. Awesome?Always.

Report this review (#227061)
Posted Thursday, July 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Fortress' - Protest The Hero (6/10)

I have to say; on my first listen of 'Fortress,' my mind was very much blown away. There aren't a great amount of albums in metal where every band member gives an exceptional performance. The songwriting, while having spots of brilliance here and there, never passed me as being consistently superb, but I was instantly enamoured by the onslaught of systematic chaos the band produced.

Protest The Hero come on strong and heavy from the very beginning; assaulting the listener with rapidfire guitar work, soaring melodies and hardcore-styled vocals. These are the first few seconds of the opener 'Bloodmeat,' which works out to be one of the more enjoyable tracks on the album.

After listening to the album over and over (I couldn't stop listening to the album for the first few days I owned it) and having the initial shock effect wear off, I realized that while the first four tracks are indeed fantastic, the album as a whole really does not have an immense load of emotional depth in it. 'Fortress' is enjoyable and a remarkable display of talent, but the moments of jaw-dropping beauty end up being too few and far in between.

While I am certainly aware that this is technical metal, and that some over-the-top musicianship is in order, my favourite parts of the album are the parts where Protest The Hero manage to channel their technicality and blend it with a soaring, hooky melody... It always comes as a very refreshing change of pace from the unrelenting virtuosic displays.

'Fortress' is first and foremost, a guitar album. Although having a relatively short career, the guitarist has developing himself a rather distinctive hammer-on/pull-off heavy style, which is very cool. While I really wish I could award the album with another star, there are alot of parts that I don't care for, that detract from the overall product (particularly on the latter half of the album.) While the first four songs together make an unrelenting feast of musical greatness, the album doesn't quite hold up all the way through. Still, if the price warrants it, I would definately recommend picking this one up. It's certainly worth it for those first few, jaw- dropping listens.

Report this review (#256525)
Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Most of my friends won't come near me while I'm listening to Protest The Hero and it's not because of the Tech-Metal genre. They just simply can't stand the vocals. I, on the other hand, feel that they concentrate too much on one particular element and miss out on all the greatness beneath the vocal layers!

I picked this album up after hearing about it here on Prog Archives and had it on my play-list for many month since then. Fortress was my main candidate for the favorite 2008-release until Intronaut's Prehistoricisms came out of nowhere and stole that position right at the last minute!

The compositions here might seem short when glancing over the track-list but they are literally packed with explosive in-your-face material that will make the listener sweat bullets! There is no doubt in my mind about the new exciting genre of tech-metal that is being in development here which is the result of the drastic changes which young lads in bands like Protest The Hero and Between The Buried And Me have implemented on the tech-metal genre!

I'm really looking forward to hearing what these guys are going to do next!

***** star songs: Bloodmeat (3:55) Wretch (4:11)

**** star songs: The Dissentience (4:22) Bone Marrow (5:30) Sequoia Throne (3:01) Palms Read (5:05) Limb From Limb (4:22) Spoils (3:41) Goddess Bound (3:35) Goddess Gagged (3:13)

Report this review (#263178)
Posted Thursday, January 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars What to say . . .

I knew absolutely nothing about Protest The Hero before I bought this album. The only thing I had heard was that they were really good and 'progressive'. Well, in some ways, I suppose they are. The vocals aren't rough or growly nearly as often as I expected (not that I mind growling anyway, because I certainly don't, if it's done well). The clean vocals that are present remind me a lot of The Mars Volta, actually (that is, the Mars Volta mateiral where Cedric actually sings well!), and they are pleasant enough, and the screaming (provided by more than one band member) is hit-and-miss, but for the most part, the vocal department is well-done.

The playing ability of the musicians stands out quite obviously, and of course they are fantastic at what they do, but i wonder . . . is this really that progressive of an album? Yes, there are experimental moments, here, but overall, it sounds a lot like typical Post- Hardcore that all the mall-goth kids rave about with their friends, and aside from a few specific moments, nothing else makes me find this all that original. Sure it's great for what it is, but I don't consider it anywhere near the caliber of bands like Cynic, Opeth, Death, Voivod or Meshuggah. It doesn't mean this isn't worth listening to. If you're a fan of all the different types of extreme Metal out there, I'm sure you'll enjoy Fortress, but not for its originality.

Perhaps I've just missed the point, but I have owned this album for a while now without giving my thoughts on it, because I was expecting it to grow on me a little more over time. It simply hasn't. It's fairly enjoyable, but only at certain moments does it really impress me. Of specific note are the two tracks ''Limb From Limb'' and ''Spoils'', which admittedly have some very interesting and creative musical moments buried within them. But these bouts of (dare I say) genius aren't frequent or recurring enough for me to believe this is an album worth holding up with same high esteem I hold its peers in this specific sub-genre. If you're into more modern-sounding Post-Hardcore metal music, you'll most likely have fun listening to this, but if you're expecting the next great masterpiece of Extreme Prog Metal, you may just be a little bit disappointed.

2.5 stars.

Report this review (#270896)
Posted Tuesday, March 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars After an amazing debut, Fortress came back with a more structured style, an even more mythological based concept, a more progressive outlook and even better songs.

Fortress still contains that amazing instrumentation that was seen in Kezia and even brings to it more and more mature style. It's still pure mathcore at the heart, but it even a progressive metal fan would find this album to be right up their styles.

The concept is based around goddess worship and tyrannical rule during what I believe to the Orient, topics you would never seen be written by a mathcore band. Very smart and very well done.

1. Bloodmeat ? Wow what a way to start the album. Epic beyond control. Amazing lyrics and the vocals are very flexible. One of their highlighting moments with an amazing vocal performance from Rody.

2. The Dissentience ? Again another epic piece of music. The build up is amazing.

3. Bone Marrow ? The keyboards add a more bombastic and atmospheric tone to the song. I love how the song moves in so many different ways.

4. Sequoia Throne ? Very beautiful intro. Wow, what a song. I love how it modulates between major and minor.

5. Palms Read ? Incredibly frantic with an amazing ending.

6. Limb From Limb ? I love how the song starts. Very Dream Theater meets Symphony X. Mathcore at its best. Great keyboard solo from Vadim from Dragonforce.

7. Spoils ? The instrumental work in this song second to none. Vocals and lyrics are both amazing.

8. Wretch ? Another beautiful piano intro. The song is based around the cover art. Amazing song.

9. Goddess Bound ? A very anarchistic song. Very kick ass. They also do this song amazing live.

10. Goddess Gagged ? An amazing way to end an amazing album. The instrumental parts are amazing.

CONCLUSION: One of the best mathcore albums I have ever heard. A masterpiece of it's genre and form.

Report this review (#277747)
Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Protest The Hero's second album came out three years after their debut "Kezia", which had generated discussions about the talent of the band and left questions on how this band would continue. Would the next one be a typical mainstream hardcore album (like thousands of bands all over the world that sound so similar like one band with 100,000 releases) or would they experiment even more, taking their music to the next level, whatever that would be?

When the first notes of "Bloodmeat" hit my speakers I was relieved realising that the second senario was the case, though it is not that simple. These guys are totally aware of their talent and want to be as successful as they can or better deserve. Their character did not change much, except the fact that they sound much more like a prog metal band and a bit less hardcore. Their sound is thicker, and a little more prog (though this is somekind of depreciation for the level of musicianship in "Kezia").

The commercial success of "Fortress" proves how good album this is. Very few bands have achieved #1 status the first week of release in their country (Canada), #95 on the US Billboard and #10 spot on the Billboard Top Independent Album chart with such a progressive approach in their music.

The lyrics are once again really impressive and probably deeper than in their debut. There are obvious Robert Graves influences here (specifically from his "The White Goddess" book on poetic myth). Arif Mirabdolbaghi, the band's incredible bass player, is also a talented lyricist and this is a pleasant surprise. Bands that sound like Protest The Hero are not ususally famous for their lyrics.

The songs are characterized by Walker's impossible vocal lines, which are now a bit more inclined towards a brutal, harsh style, retaining the alternative, harcore singing and adding many melodic (Muse-like) lines. However, the album still sounds very melodic and yet attacking. Hoskin and Millar have evidently found the perfect chemistry. Their twin-guitar playing is astonishing. Alongside Hinds and Kelliher (Mastodon), these guys are among the most impressive metal band guitarists today, and honestly, I like these youngsters more. Mirabdolbaghi and Carlson are like a well-oiled machine playing games with rhythms and constantly changing the songs' mood, which is, and always has been a like-it-or-not thing (it may sound disturbing or too much to some).

The whole album is really good. However, I must admit that the level of sonwriting is a little (only a little) uneven here. There are many brilliant songs, like "Bloodmeat", "Bone Marrow", "Sequoia Throne" (my favourite), "Palms Read", "Limb From limb" (which includes a keyboard solo by Vadim Pruzhanov of DragonForce), and "Wretch" (probably the album's best lyrics). The rest of the songs (4) are also great, only a bit lower than the aforementioned.

I look forward to their third studio album. These guys owe themselves a masterpiece.

Report this review (#301510)
Posted Saturday, October 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
3 stars Great ideas that don't go very far.

Protest the Hero a relatively new mathcore/progressive metal band from Canada. They smashed onto the scene with their killer debut Kezia, which reached far bounds in their genre's sonic spectrum. The band comes back in 2008 with Fortress, an overall good album but a bit lacking. The band has very good ideas with their music but they fail to develop them very far. Overall, the band delivers a vicious punch of intense and technical metal, but they fall short of creating anything truly special.

Bloodmeat smashes open the album with a killer little riff that quickly breaks down into another riff that quickly breaks down into another riff that then switches to another riff... whew! With this song we see early on how the band has plenty of absolutely fantastic ideas, but they don't develop them into any cohesive track but just cram as much stuff into a 3 minute track as possible. Overall, the song is very strong and doesn't fall short of intensity, but has way too much going on to be considered an overall excellent song.

The Dissentience is a little better than the last track, with more concise ideas being further developed than just a rough cut guitar riff. Still, however, the song shows signs of way too much (or not enough) thought put into such a short time span. With some of the ideas present in the track, a lengthy metal epic could have been made. The track is strong, but lacks a unique spark that would make it a spectacular track.

Bone Marrow is one of the best tracks on the album, making an absolutely epic duology (with the next track). It contains some of the more creative ideas, albeit there are way too many of them shoved into the song. A little bit of funk is heard, with some fantastic mathcore riffs synchronizations heard. The whole experience of Bone Marrow could be seen as an almost surreal one, with bass boosts put in at the perfect spot and keyboard textures being sprinkled in here and there. The melodic transition at the end of the track marks the finishing of "part 1" of the album and the advent of part 2. The whole little section is beautiful, either adding or subtracting to the overall feel of the track.

Sequia Throne is my absolute favorite track on the album. Absolutely brilliant riffs, great soloing and harmonizations between the two guitars, and some absolutely fantastic bass and drums synchronizations. Overall, the track displays what Protest the Hero can do: rape your ears for all they're worth. The band dishes out an insane amount of mathcore madness, with hectic time signature changes, insanely fast soloing and synchronized breakdowns. Overall, this is easily the strongest track on the album, although I would love it if the ideas in the song were developed further.

Palms Read marks the slow decline of my interest in the album. After the relatively incredible tracks, little more can be done for the album. Of course, this song also contains some purely genius ideas, but still they are so all over the place that it makes it hard to consider this a serious song but more like an album teaser. Overall, the song is really good, but is nowhere the best of the album.

Limb from Limb is alright, but nothing special. Some really standard metalcore riffing and crazy instrumental prowess make this rather unspecial compared to the rest of the metalcore genre. The song can get a little "boring," with way too much craziness making it a combination of boring and harsh.

Spoils is a really nice, but a little odd, "fusion" song of power metal and alternative metal. Some great ideas again are a little hectic and underused in an insane song. The song, like so many of the songs before, contain way too many ideas shoved into a short time span. The really only exceptional part of the song is the beautiful transitional piano piece at the end of the song.

Wretch is so much like the other song. Some great riffs and ideas shoved into a short time span and made way too crazy. Some really awkward modulations to major also detract from this song a lot. Sometimes, there is a point where a musician needs to step and ask himself what is he putting into a song and why. It's pretty obvious they did not do this as they shoved riff after riff into an obese track. Overall, the song has some great ideas, but the song overall is way too hectic.

Goddess Bound is yet another way too overstuffed song. This time, throw in some odd and sometimes way too generic lyrics and mix in an overused concept and you get the Goddess Bound/Goddess Gagged duology. The song is good, but like essentially every other track on the album, has way too many great ideas shoved into it.

Goddess Gagged is an appropriate ender to the album. Using much more proggy riffs than just metalcore, and seem to have a much more structured song built this time. Finally, only a select few ideas were used, and tastefully. The song has some really great ideas too, some of the better ones of the album. Overall, the track is actually a rather strong ender, albeit it does end rather suddenly. It has some strong ideas that are a little more structured, although it still seems a little all over the place at times.

ALBUM OVERALL: From the tone of the review, one may assume that I hate this album, which is not true. First time through, I was blown away. But, I slowly began to realize that the band had just pumped the album full of great ideas meant to explode your mind while truly they were feeble and underdeveloped ideas. The instrumentation is spectacular, hammering in another great metalcore performance, but the music preformed is nothing special. As I said time and time again, the ideas used on this album are stunted and underdeveloped. Overall, the album has fantastic ideas, but they provide for nothing more than a tiring and exhausted ride. 3 stars.

Report this review (#389721)
Posted Saturday, January 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars In my opinion, this is by FAR the best Protest the Hero album, and one of the best progressive metal albums of all time. The technical ability of this band is practically unrivalled. They play with speed and dexterity, and constantly switch through time signatures with ease and precision. The tunes, though very heavy and complex, still manage to be catchy and memorable and they managed to be stuck in my head for days at a time. Rody Walker's vocals are very good. He hits the high notes very well, and his unclean vocals aren't overused. I consider this to be an essential album for any fan of progressive or technical metal.
Report this review (#425722)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album was my favourite album of 2008 and is a very important album for me. A couple of years ago, i grew tired of most of the new music i heard from the artists that i was following for years and there weren't many new bands i got into. I had the impression that i heard everything before and no music could move me anymore like the music i grew up with (late 90's metal: Cradle Of Filth, Emperor, Dream Theater, Paradise Lost, Devin Townsend,...). I feared that i was changing into one of those old guys who kept talking how much better music was back in his day.

This album changed that, together with many awesome bands i discovered through progarchives, it was something completely fresh, unique, crazy and over the top. You can find a lot of different influences in it ranging from punk, metalcore, mathmetal, scandinavian deathmetal and prog, but most importantly this band has it's own sound.

Thanks to the "love it or hate it" vocals from Rody Walker that stay far away from the usual metal clichés and crazy songwriting skills that are both extremely complex and over the top melodic, it is very difficult to put this band in a genre or even to compare them with other bands. Which is impressive for a genre that has a few dozen Meshuggah/Dillinger clones

In my opinion this is their best album so far and the best place to start if you want to get into this band.

Report this review (#644770)
Posted Saturday, March 3, 2012 | Review Permalink

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