Protest the Hero

Brilliance often breeds polarity. For example, Kezia, the 2006 debut from this group of young Canadians, split the metal community down the middle, with a love it or loathe it mindset. That being said, of all the non extreme metal albums I reviewed, Kezia seemed to be that rare non death, grind, black, thrash metal record with massive almost emo tinged commercial appeal that seemed to sit right with most metal heads that actually stopped being kult long enough to actually listen to it.

So here is the follow up, Fortress and let me tell you the key word here is ‘more’. More infectious riffs, more soaring choruses, more intricate guitar work, more arpeggios, more……balls. Fortress is an improvement in every facet over Kezia while retaining the same very general baseline of emo, rock, metalcore and thrash (again, the Coheed and Cambria meets Thursday meets Between the Buried and Me meets Dragonforce meets Soundgarden comparison is valid). Essentially, PTH have evolved, grown and exploded into a truly superstar act with an abundance of crossover appeal.

While the sticking point of Fortress will again be Rody Walker’s wide ranging vocals which actually might be less emo and grating to the curious metal fan than on Kezia. His range of growls, screams croons and wails are in fact one of the album strong points, carrying many of the albums most infectious moments. However, it is the guitar work of Tim Miller and Luke Hoskin that is the centerpiece of the stunning Fortress.

Deftly weaving between stuttering complexity, hairswept power metal, thrash, arpeggios and balls out orchestral arena rawk, each of the 10 tracks on Fortress often plays like a Paul Waggoner (BTBAM) highlight reel. Starting with one of the albums standout tracks, opener “Bloodmeat”, the well chosen first video from the album, and its stunning, soaring chorus, Fortress bobs, cuts and weaves with the confidence of a lithe Lightweight boxer, quickly jabbing and picking his shots to floor you with rather than overarching sweeping and telegraphed right hooks. Each track has just oodles of ridiculously catchy, over before you know it fret play and slicing, cleverly placed moments of sheer musical delight whose only real downfall is they just don’t last long enough.

The galloping start and tantalizing piano closure of “Bone Marrow”, the simply stunning opening arpeggio and stop start harmonies or free form Jazz metal climax that appears in other standout, “Palms Read”, the soaring arpeggio of “Limb From Limb” (complete with synthesized solo), the dizzying classical guitarwok of “Spoils”, sing along “Wretch” and galloping peak of “Goddess Bound”; all are blissful if tantilizingly fleeting moments of infectious, guilty pleasure, and that’s the tip of the musical iceberg contained in the 10 tracks. Ultimately though, everything still just seems more direct, concise and memorable than on the fantastic but scattershot Kezia.

At a brisk 40 minutes and with a sudden ending, Fortress has no filler and no needless self indulgence, despite the complexity of the guitar work-The Fall of Troy can blow me. This is emo/pop guitarwork with clarity and intricacy but also purpose, balls and backbone, all laced with the kind of hooks most pop and mainstream rocks bands only dream about.

I’d look for Protest the Hero to absolutely blow up upon the release of Fortress and become the Mastodon of the Hot Topic generation, sign to a major and just explode across the media whether you like them or not.

Top 5 of this young year for sure

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 28th, 2008


  1. Commented by: fightingmike

    This is pretty good shit. I was a little hesitant because of how young these guys are and how much buzz they have been getting, but they have won me over. The Vox can get a little whiny here and there, but overall this is great stuff. They remind me of a catchier version of Darkane being fronted by the singers of Mars Volta and My Chemical Romance, but with a radio rock sheen.

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