Protest The Hero – Fortress

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Cover of Protest The Hero - Fortress

Cover of Protest The Hero - Fortress

You don’t usually write a year’s top tens in August so I’m not going to, but I have to admit I was tempted to. This year I set, as a goal for myself, to listen to as much new music as I can. Of course being a metalhead I’m not going to check everything that Rolling Stone recommends so as for a guide for most of my musical travels I turned to MetalSucks , though I of course used advices from other places.

When reading the before mentioned MetalSucks I stumbled on a review of Protest The Hero’s new album – Fortress. So I went to the band’s myspace, and saw the video for Sequoia Throne. And drowned in all the awesome…

Yeah I am, maybe, getting too excited about this band, but I just can’t help it. It obviously does not beat In Flames in my book, but IF has been my favourite band for forever, so it’s not like that’s going to happen anytime soon. But, my love for the Swedes aside, Protest The Hero is really a unique band. I can’t really put in a category with band like Dream Theater. It is prog-metal, but only the vocalist shreds that box into pieces not to mention the other band members.

I’m no music reviewer but I will try to bring you as much of a review as I can manage:

What struck me the most about PTH was the vocalist. There are many bands out there who are brilliant technically, able to perfectly pull crazy licks with the background of the drummer doing 200 bpm blast beats. That’s all great but I really like some good clean vocals in metal. When a singer just goes all trough the song just doing deep growls (f.ex. Cannibal Corpse), I bang my head to the music but the pure cookie monster vocal just doesn’t sit well with me. Of course I listen to bands that base their vocals on growls and screams (In Flames! They did only that with maybe some cleans in between in the earlier days) but I can’t really listen to bands that just stick to the most basic extreme metal vocal formula. And here – PTH shines. Rody Walker brilliantly shows off that he can do basically everything in terms of metal vocals. He has a really good clean voice which he uses extensively on Fortress, but intermixes it with some growls and screams which add a lot of character to the vocals. It’s clearly stated in the interviews with him, that vocals are the last part of the recording process. All the music and all the lyrics are already written when Walker enters the studio. And he uses it to his advantage. Using the music and his own vocal skills he pulls off some really cool growls and screams, but also some hooky cleans that will have singing along after a few listens.

Then comes the bass. Brought to you by Arif Mirabdolbaghi, who also writes the lyrics for the band. At that’s what I wanted to talk about first, because it’s quite unusual for the bassist to be writing the lyrics. And you don’t really think about it because the lyrics are actually very good. Of course it’s up to the truly die-hard fans to decipher what Mirabdolbaghi had in mind, and since the songs are supposed to form a story it’s even harder to interpret what he wrote. That aside, any avid metal listener can spot the references to our contemporary reality cleverly hidden under the guise of a fantasy storytelling (let’s not mix PTH with power metal bands, though).

But what about the bass? It’s quite unusual too. In opposite to most metal bands these days, the bass line is actually very “visible” on this album. That’s thanks to Mirabdolbaghi being a really good bass player. He shows his skills in the band’s music videos and live performances, where you can see such unusual techniques as simultaneous tapping by the guitarist and the bassist.

If we’re on bass let’s quickly touch on drums too. I admit that I just can’t ,with a clean mind. judge any body’s drumming (unless it is obviously horrible) so all I can say is that in my opinion the drummer does his job. He just fills in the gaps that the bassists leaves very well, and with doing that he still adds a personal element to every song.

I don’t want this review to become a list, but the next logical step is to talk about the guitars. And as a beginning guitar player myself I have to say that I was in awe when I heard this album. It feels like those guys are soloing all through the songs and just step up to another level of complexity for the actual solos. Let me explain this with the example of Sequoia Throne – The song begins with a two-finger tapping lick, which turns out to be the main riff. And it keeps it up all trough the song. Repeat that all through the album. Really what more can want?

I am maybe a little bit too optimistic about this CD. I can’t help it. I’ve been listening to it for over two weeks now and it still is as exciting when I listened to it for the first time.

I don’t like scores, so I’m not going to give one, but you can be assured that Fortress gets my highest praise, and I recommend for you go out and get it.

Well, that’s about it. If more words come out of my brain it’ll spill out of my ears, and that I will not do to entertain you. Hope you enjoyed this post, dear reader.

Hail the rubber chicken!

PS. Apparently you can also get an instrumental version of Fortress on iTunes.


3 Responses to “Protest The Hero – Fortress”

  1. 1 EvilEvo
    5 November, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    i agree
    the band has an extremely talented singer.
    their drummer is excellent.
    and their lead guitar is amazing.
    PTH is Amazing

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