Why So Scurrilous? Protest The Hero Are Back
Monday, March 14, 2011 5 Comments
So, a while back, I dated this girl who told me a story about the time she saw DragonForce at The Pound (R.I.P.) in San Francisco. Supposedly, there was this band called Protest the Hero that opened up for them and the whole time they were performing, the entire plastic sword-wielding crowd was yelling at them to get off the stage because they wanted DragonForce. This story is hilarious to me now because 1) My ex girlfriend is stupid and wouldn’t know good metal if it shit in her cereal, and 2) No one has given a shit about DragonForce since 2006, meanwhile, Protest the Hero are still relevant and crushing it (without the help of countless guitar effects and studio wizardry).
Well, it looks like the Canadian Kings of Prog are back with another release entitled Scurrilous, which is due out March 22 (next Tuesday). I’ve had the pleasure of giving it tons of playtime and I am diggin’ it. A lot.
What’s great about Protest the Hero is the fact that they really take ownership of their sound, which is something rare in today’s metal world. This also sucks because when you want to hear more of this style, there aren’t many good options out there. Suffice it to say, Protest the Hero are trend-setters in their own right.
I was instantly hooked on this band after the first listen of 2005’s Kezia and have been a fan ever since. Fortress had its moments, mostly during the first half of the album, but never really stuck with me or had major re-playability for some odd reason, even though I can tell you that it’s a solid album. I can honestly say that Protest the Hero has me back and hooked more than ever with Scurrilous.
From the moment I heard a stream of the opening track, “C’est La Vie”, I knew this album was going to destroy ears and wreck faces. One internet goer on Soundcloud described the song as “Powerslave on speed” which is both hilarious and accurate. But what else awaited me? As soon as the second track, “Hair-Trigger” kicked in, I immediately thought of Kezia. A guest vocal appearance by Jadea Kelly only solidified this nostalgic trip back to my early twenties. It’s almost as though they wanted to do something for the older fans by saying “Here you go…remember us?” But that’s really where the comparison to Kezia ends.
One thing that stands out on Scurrilous is the fact that PTH really took the time to spread the love throughout the entire project. This is an album I can listen to start to finish. They also really kicked it up a notch in their songwriting and exploration with different sound dynamics; just listen to the swelling guitars and chiming bass harmonics on “Dunsel” and you’ll hear what I mean. It sounds like whales making softcore porn.
The production quality is very similar to Fortress, which is not surprising because they enlisted the same producer, Julius Butty, to handle production duties like all of their previous albums. Sonically, it is the best sounding album Protest the Hero have ever released and is probably the best production job I’ve heard all year. Another observation is that singer Rody Walker rarely screams, which I believe benefits them during a time when vocalists mainly scream because they feel it’s what the genre dictates. Walker really shows off his incredible vocal range, marking Scurrilous as his best effort to date. From a songwriting perspective, gone are the Sikth-influenced days of Fortress (which is not a bad thing, considering how awesome Sikth was) and instead, PTH has gone with a more stripped-down (if you could call it that) approach to the songwriting. Hooks? Check. Melody? Check. In your face shredding and enough guitar work to choke a large animal? Double check.
Lyrically, PTH continues their signature storytelling-style writing, with a dose of some pretty humorous moments. For example, when Walker softly falsettos the line “…take a piss…” during “Moonlight”, it’s quite possibly the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard. PTH have always been known for having an odd sense of humor (just look at any studio update video they’re ever made), and I can visualize everyone in the band laughing their ass off in the studio when Walker recorded that line.
Final Verdict: Ferocious in its delivery, Scurrilous is an ambitious, well-produced, and creative endeavor from a band that will always demand the listener’s attention. 4 / 5
Notable Tracks: “C’est La Vie”, “Hair-Trigger”, “Moonlight”, “Tapestry”, “Dunsel”, and “Termites”. Not a lot of fat on this album, that’s for sure.
Scurrilous drops March 22. Do yourself a favor and buy it.
Update (3/29/11) – Protest the Hero just released the music video for “C’est La Vie”: