Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Protest The Hero - Fortress (2008)

4.0 ★/8.0 - 8.9

Every once in a while a band emerges out of that ever-constant shit-stream known as modern "emo-core", to remind people of the great aspects of the genre that no one remembers (or never bothered to explore in the first place). Protest The Hero...is not that band. As much as I'd like to see a revitalized interest in the classic emo forefathers like Drive Like Jehu or At The Drive In, the only artist that comes to mind when listening to Fortress is Dream Theater. This is pure Progressive Metal filtered through a hardcore lens. The album's short ten tracks bulge frantically with unpredictable fragments ranging from decimating death metal grooves to soaring hair metal solos, and above all, epic war-torn victory choruses. Indeed, there's so much crammed into each track that even repeated listens doesn't quite unravel all it's joys. Fortress is every bit as impenetrable and dizzying as it's name suggests and, initially, everything just goes by in a blur. But give it enough listens and the impressive song-structures show that they're more than ends to themselves. They become vehicles for the individual moments.

Fortress is, at no point, an album of songs. It's always an album that is propelled by spectacular moments, whether it's the cavernous, bass-led head banging intro of "Bone Marrow", the anthemic Queen-influenced sections of "Palms Read" (including what is easily one of the most grand and majestic musical moments of the year, surfacing at around 3 minutes; a double bass drum, power ballad progression, enhanced by heroicly delivered vocals and intensive guitarwork), or the catchier sections of "Goddess Gagged", undoubtedly inspired by Journey. Breath-taking dynamics are constantly flooding the listener with exhilaration and rousing animation, before abruptly rushing into the next movement as quickly as it came and, over the course of 40 sparse minutes, Protest The Hero achieves a certain schizophrenic euphoria, using their ADD nature to strike an intensely violent and satisfying balance between rapid fire brutality and anthemic glory.

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