Words About Music
Protest The Hero “Volition”
One band that continues to impress me (which seems to be more and more rare in the world of heavy metal) is Canadian metalcore/mathcore outfit Protest The Hero. Ever since their 2005 debut album “Kezia” they’ve been expanding on the over-the-top time-signature-defying sound of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s first album and including elements of progressive rock and post-hardcore, making Protest The Hero a weird Glassjaw/Coheed and Cambria/Converge sounding group. Four albums into their career they’ve had a lineup change for the first time ever with drummer Moe Carlson leaving the band before they could begin recording the crowd-funded fourth album “Volition.” Stepping in for Carlson would be Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler who would record the drum parts for the record but not be a member of the band. Protest The Hero announced their new drummer a couple weeks ago and with that announcement came “Volition,” an ambitious new record from a band that has always been close to becoming an old dog that can’t be taught new tricks.
Fans of heavy metal should absolutely rejoice. Not just for the new album, but for the exciting music of Protest The Hero in general. With “Volition” Protest The Hero manage to remain incredibly exciting, even though they tend to come off a little bit stylistically similar to groups like Avenged Sevenfold at times. One noticeable change with the group is that they seem to have shed a bit of the math from the music, not to say that there aren’t a few difficult-to-air-drum breakdowns. Protest The Hero pride themselves on their unpredictable song structures and wonderfully complex syncopated guitar-and-drum riffs, but the band seems to at least make an attempt to be a little more friendly on the ears for “Volition.” That’s not a bad thing at all, actually, because it shows that Protest The Hero is more than just a gimmick. They’re not an unnecessarily or pretentiously complex band and they’re very capable of making great music that doesn’t always need to rely on time signature switches.
Another thing about this album I must praise is how well Rody Walker’s instantly recognizable vocals have held up in the 10+ years of Protest The Hero’s existence. He really does have a sound that’s his own. I wouldn’t be uncomfortable comparing his truly epic vocals to the likes of Bruce Dickinson or Ronnie James Dio. Although I’m not totally crazy about his lyrics, the dude makes them sound like they’re the most important words in the world. His vocals are a performance. It’s like listening to a well-spoken politician or lawyer answer a question without truly answer the question. It’s the passion that matters in this genre, not always the lyrics.
Protest The Hero makes what they do seem so easy it’s almost frustrating. From the intricately woven dual guitars to the worthy-of-envy vocal skills of Walker to the Jackson Pollock drumming of whoever happens to be behind the kit (Chris Adler really holds his own in a band that’s quite different from his own), it’s hard to believe that actual human beings composed the music and wrote it. Now any heavy metal guitarist should be able to write a flashy riff and impress his friends, but with Protest The Hero it’s a bit more than that even though it doesn’t always seem like it. “Volition” isn’t a perfect record and probably not Protest The Hero’s best, but they’ve at least proven that they’re capable of remaining relevant in this crazy music world, much like fellow boundary-pushing metal acts like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge. The music itself isn’t too challenging and not the most original, but it’s a ton of fun to listen to, especially if you ever wished Daryl Palumbo would front a mathcore band.
SCORE – 7.7
FAVORITE TRACKS – Clarity, Drumhead Trial, Tilting Against Windmills, Without Prejudice, Plato’s Tripartite, A Life Embossed, Mist, Animal Bones
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