I’ll be 100% honest and say that I don’t really know the work of Canadian progressive metal band Protest The Hero that well. Actually? Scratch that. I don’t know their stuff at all. I had heard of the band many times but I just never got the itch to check them out. Then earlier this year the band announced an IndieGoGo campaign to record their fourth studio album and they reached that goal in 30 hours. Ultimately they ended up with nearly three times their original goal, reaching a massive $341K. At that point, I began to get a bit curious. After all, a band doesn’t accumulate that kind of donation without doing something right…right?
Well, I got a chance to get a taste of the band recently when the band released “Clarity”, their first single from their upcoming album Volition, which comes out October 29th via Razor & Tie. I hit ‘Play’ because I just had to know if that $341K went to good use and sat back to hear just what exactly was so special about these guys. The song ended and I promptly hit ‘Replay’. When it ended again, I hit ‘Replay’ again. I think I listened to the song about six or seven times in a row before I could move on to whatever else it was that I had to do.
To put it simply, I was hooked. While I still haven’t gone back in the band’s career (if you’ve got some favorite tracks, leave them in the comments below), I’m not extremely excited for their future. But let me stick around on current affairs and explain just what it is about “Clarity” that has me so into it.
I’ve never been one to care much about lyrics. It’s just really rare that a song has lyrics that grab me and make me remember them. I look at vocals as another instrument and I’m much more interested in the melody of the vocalist.
But here the lyrics are pretty badass, easy to remember, and fit the syncopation of the song perfectly. Singer Rody Walker practically shoots the lyrics out and it’s so obvious that he’s having a blast that I can’t help but get into it myself. It’s contagious, alright?!
Yeah, you read that right. The groove master behind Lamb Of God did all the session work for this album after original drummer Moe Carlson left the band to go back to school. Adler has already proven himself to be one of metal’s finest drummers due to his incredible tight, focused, and clever drum work . And with his approach on “Clarity” proving his abilities on a prog metal album, it’s basically assured that his rhythm work here will be nothing short of spectacular and I wouldn’t be surprised if it netted him more than one “Drummer Of The Year” award.
Remember how just a few paragraphs ago I stated that I’m not usually one for lyrics and that I think of the voice as simply another instrument? Well here’s a prime example of a voice doing amazing things. From lows to highs with runs that are usually reserved for completely different genres (I’m looking at you pop and RnB), Walker gleefully jumps all over his range, creating a delightful vocal journey.
Say whatever you want but this song is beyond tight. Each instrument play perfectly off of one another, creating a rich, exciting musical conversation. It’s like sitting next to a table at a restaurant where everyone is clever, sharp, witty, and hilarious and you end up feeling like you had an amazing time just being able to overhear them. That’s what listening to “Clarity” does for me. It makes me feel like I was able to be a part of something fantastic, even if I’m just a casual observer.
THIS is quite possibly one of the most irritating things about a lot of bands these days. You want to know what makes an interesting song? It’s not just having badass riffs. It’s not just having awesome vocals. It’s not just incredible songwriting skills. It’s knowing how to take all of the things I just mentioned and knowing when and where to place them to achieve maximum effect.
Let’s look at it like a horror film. Would we really be excited if a movie were just one kill after another without any development or downtime? We enjoy horror because we love that tension, that fear, that suspense. If we experienced it nonstop the fun would be gone within minutes. Those downtimes are a breath of fresh air that allow the brutality and violence to be that much more impactful.
A dynamic intro? Check. Sweeping guitar licks? Check. Percussive double bass drum blasts? Check. Arena-worthy chants? Check. Protest The Hero nailed the formula for an epic, breathtaking climax that sent chills up and down my spine and covered my arms in goosebumps.
If “Clarity” is any indication of what’s to come, Protest The Hero may have written one of the best albums of the year.