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Protest the Hero – Scurrilous

  • Review by: Vilasini Muralidhar

Sub-genres, of late, have become a topic of constant debate in the fraternity, owing to an almost-expelling of styles like djent and metalcore from the ‘elite’ inner circle of metal genres. Thanks to this, bands like Protest the Hero aren’t exactly what one would consider a popular favourite. But this, in no way, proves them to be less proficient in what they do. Their latest album ‘Scurrilous’ is a perfect example of this.

The album opens with ‘C’est la vie’ (‘This is life’), an instant favourite. The fast riffing and unpredictable pace of the track pretty much sets the standard for the rest of the album. High on melody and sustained high notes on the vocals, it is an explosive opener. The dual guitars coupled with the backing vocals take the harmony quotient a tad bit higher. The typically progressive ‘Hair trigger’ comes next. It has a great rhythm and fine bass work that’s hard to miss. The band is joined by Jadea Kelly (the same person who took on the role of Kezia in their 2005 concept album of the same name) on vocals in the latter half. The conversational duet forms a good climax for the song, which concludes with a nice breakdown.

‘Tandem’ follows a similar pattern, but includes a slightly unnecessary electronica-influenced processing on the vocals. Though the song is one of the longest ones on the album, the five and a half odd minutes fly by because of the musical variety that’s been smartly packaged into this one song. By the time you reach ‘Moonlight’, it’s almost like you’re out of breath thanks to the pace the album seems to be going at. Not that it’s a bad thing though. You also might want to take Rody Walker’s advice and “Tell a joke” or “Take a piss” as the album is only half done by this time. This is then followed by ‘Tapestry’- a track heavy with vocal experimentation. Not only will you hear him sing along with the riffs, but also will you hear hints at growls.

‘Dunsel’ starts off slow, reminiscent of Dream Theater’s ‘Lifting Shadows off a Dream’. Just when you think it’s going to be a breather of a track, Protest the Hero proves you wrong. The aggression levels are almost double by this time, and things seem to have gotten pretty darn intense! ‘The reign of unending terror’ is also a fairly decent track, and has a good groove to it. ‘Termites’ also passes by, real fast, but what’s noteworthy is the way the guitar solo and choral backing vocals come in to relieve the monotony that the song may have just about slipped into.

The pitch climbing guitar work continues with ‘Tongue splitter’ and finally, the album wraps itself up with ‘Sex Tapes’- a song which is possibly more about the message than anything else. With references to ‘the Jonas generation’ and the shit that happens on the internet, the album concludes with a hard hitting social wake-up call.

Coming to the overall judgment, I’d say without doubt that ‘Scurrilous’ is the band’s best piece of work so far. Musically, they seem to be progressing at a pretty unimaginable pace (references intended) and even the vocals seem more powerful and confident than before. Though they’ve stuck to their trademark groovy-metalcore meets progressive rock sound, ‘Scurrilous’ is far more frantic and intense than either of their earlier albums, also being high on technicality and energy levels. Listening to the album in one go for the first time might be a little too much to take for some, but like all other Protest the Hero albums, I suggest you lap it up slowly, a little at a time, and that’s when you’ll relish it best.