Kids these days. Forming in Canada at the tender age of 14, Protest The Hero have spent the last two years working on this, their debut album proper. Now 19 and with tours alongside Every Time I Die, The Bled and The Fall Of Troy under their belts and an upcoming UK tour and appearance at Download to look forward to they’re planning to make as much of a splash here as they have in their home country.
It’s easy to see why they’ve made an impact. This is a thrill-splattered combo of Coheed’s dizzying heights, As I Lay Dying’s numbing rumble, the murderous garage groove of new Every Time I Die and the breathtaking gallop of old Iron Maiden. The vocal inflections match all the musical madness too. Rody Walker’s high tone initially sticks out but soon seems like the only thing that would work, there are gang vocals, spoken and screamed back-ups and even a beautiful female croon.
Diversity like this is certainly striking, the musicianship is mind-boggling for some so young, but it’s often confusing. On first listen there is little here to really grab onto. ‘Nautical’ and ‘Blindfolds Aside’ are stuffed with memorable melodic hooks and ‘Turn Soonest…’ slows spectacularly from speedy metal thrashing to eerie spoken word passages to bruising metalcore to soft pop-like melodies and back again but elsewhere it gets too much. ‘Bury The Hatchet’ is crushingly heavy and ‘She Who Mars The Skin Of The Gods’ is impressive for sure but they ride too many genres, only settling down to create something memorable for moments at a time. The highlights here aren’t tracks but fleeting minutes and seconds.
It’s nowhere near a total failure though. You may need a degree in mathematics to keep proper time with it but ‘Kezia’ is a mighty fine first full-length and a solid sign of greatness to come. Protest The Hero remain paupers to the princes of Between The Buried And Me and The Red Chord but with time and this, a more dynamic and softer option, on their side, they could get very big indeed.
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