Protest The Hero open their third album, ‘Scurrilous’, with ‘C’est La Vie’. It’s trademark Protest The Hero: odd time signatures, technical guitar riffs, bouncing bass lines, safe drums and the lead vocals of Rody Walker are as assured and awesome as ever. The song itself though isn’t any different from what we have heard before by the band, and sadly the rest of the album goes the same way.
Even though the formula evidently works, it can sometimes end up making the songs boring, monotonous and tiresome (by the time you get to ‘Termites’, you may be tempted to pause the album, have a break and come back to it later). This isn’t to say that the musical ability of the band is bad though, infact far from it. Many an aspiring guitarist will try and fail to play Protest The Hero‘s riffs. This is one of the shining lights of ‘Scurrilous’, as if you become tired of the samey songs, you can just sit back and admire how talented each member is at what they do.
The highlights of the album are ‘Tandem’, ‘Dunsel’ and ‘The Reign Of Unending Terror’. ‘Tandem’ is a mash-up of what Protest The Hero thrive on: taking the listener for a ride via soaring guitars, pinches, breakdowns and Walker puts the song’s subject matter across impressively as he uses his vocals to great effect here. It’s probably the only song on the album that really lets the listener in to all the instruments’ effects and the song structure can be made out too; so budding guitarists may just about be able to deal with the easier riffs, and this isn’t a bad thing. Everyone knows how unbelievably hard and ridiculous Protest The Hero make their songs – so much so infact that they have written songs before even trying to play them, resulting in the band taking months to learn the song/s.
‘Dunsel’ starts off with an eerie bassline that fluctuates throughout the song, and it’s accompanied by steady drumwork by Moe Carlson, and obviously the guitars are the catalyst for everything that is right with the song. The song has sections where it’s the bass that takes control, and it provides time for the listener to deal with the sound that follows it. Towards the end of the song, the band go in a frenzy, everything is taken up a notch and live, it’s imaginable that the song will be a firm favourite with the crowd.
‘The Reign Of Unending Terror’ is one of the heavier songs on the album. It contains the most breakdowns and Walker‘s vocals are at their most furious and uncompromising here. The guitars twist and turn and pinch and squeal, causing an almost devastating effect, in the sense that they leave you listening and wanting more. The end of the song is really strong as Walker sings “When you look in my eyes / Who do you see? / When you look in my eyes / Who is it?”, and it leaves a haunting conclusion.
‘Scurrilous’ is a solid album, but as mentioned, it can get quite tedious. There are times when it leaves you gagging for more, but times when you think ‘just hurry up with the solos and get into the heart of the song’. However, Protest The Hero show the pretenders how it’s done, and the songs are sure to be ones that leave guitarists confused, frustrated and annoyed that they can’t play as well as Protest The Hero do.
Written by Rhys Milsom