Sound — 8
Protest The Hero is your typical progressive metalcore band with a hint of hardcore punk. In 2006, they released Kezia. Highly acclaimed by critics, the album was at the top of everyone's lists for the year. Kezia was a concept album following the story of a woman known as Kezia. The band's new work, Fortress, takes a different step than Kezia did. Fortress focuses more on goddess worship, Ganghis Khan, and Irish mythology. While the general themes may seem odd, they don't really cut into the music at all. When you first listen to Fortress, you immediately start with the first single, Bloodmeat. The song immediately begins with an explosion of guitars, drums, and bass. Soon after, the vocals of Rody Walker enter in to complete the sound. The song is definitely one of the few songs that you could put out as a single that is marketable to most fans of rock music in general. The song has a ending that sort of fakes the listener out, then comes back in with a heavy ending that truly introduces the rest of the album to the listener. The tempo suddenly picks up with The Dissentience, which is a fast moving song with a driving guitar and bass line throughout the song. The album's third track, Bone Marrow, can only be described as a clever combination of metal and almost classical music. You can hear almost a violin tone in the background of the track, but do not think that this song is at all softer than any other song that the band has made. It is heavy hitting, eventually building up to a breakdown where screams and whispers combine saying the royalty must die. The song eventually ends with driving guitar sweeps that, surprisingly, lead into a piano/acoustic guitar duet to soften the mood. This sort of fakes you out as Sequoia Throne begins with it's driving guitar tapping and drum beats. The song sounds like a typical Protest The Hero song, including the normal heavy moving guitar, bass, and drums with the combination of Rudy Walker's continuous switch from cynical screaming to mellow undertone singing. Palms Read starts in with a heavy sort of guitar/drums duel, but it suddenly picks up into more of a melodic guitar line. This switch between heavy and light happens throughout this song. The song is one of the mellower, lighter songs to the album. That being said, the song actually ends, then immediately breaks down into an instrumental for the ages. This instrumental continues into Limb From Limb. The track is hard hitting and defiantly shows a heavier instrumental side to the album. During the instrumental beak, they also utilize a keyboard; guest soloed by Vadim of Dragonforce. They just use it to make a few cool video game sounding effects, but it is really unnecessary to track. The song itself really shows one of the band's major qualities, the ability to use timing. You can really see who timing really affects their music as they time out when a different guitar riff enters and leaves into the music. It is shown throughout the album, but you can really see it in Limb From Limb. The track attempts to transition into Spoils, but it really doesn't transition well, as it goes from near silence into a melodic guitar riff. The song itself definitely helps the album transition even more into the heavier sounding section, as it leads into Wretch. The song is intense. It truly utilizes the band's potential in 4 minutes and 12 seconds. It demonstrates sweeps, tapping, heavy hitting drum beats, and moving bass riffs. The song immediately transitions into Goddess Bound, which also truly utilizes the band's instrumentals and vocals. The combination of the two truly sends shivers down your spine with this track. I am starting to doubt Protest The Hero can truly write a concluding track. The final track, Goddess Gagged, really doesn't make it feel like the album is complete. You almost want to believe that there is more to the album after this track. PTH also did this in Kezia with A Plateful Of Our Dead. The closer just doesn't fit like it should in a normal album. It almost sounds like it should be in the middle of the album. Putting this aside, the album has a few minor flaws that any normal album would have.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics of this album are both brilliant and fit well with the music itself. Bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi writes all the band's lyrics, and his lyrics truly define the music that is within the album. The album itself is about conquest and mentions Genghis Khan and Flidais by name in the lyrics. One of my favorite lyrics can be found in Wretch: "Suppressed and unaddressed the simple fact remains unspoken, in silence left unbroken, on a bed bound and gagged with culture, language, myth and law: our goddess gave birth to your god - From a wounded womb where her flesh scarred and raw - Our goddess gave birth to your god." In that lyric alone, not only do you see the cleverness of the lyrics, but you also see a statement that can define the general feeling portrayed from the album. The lyrics of the album truly make up for the albums minor flaws in it's music.
Overall Impression — 10
Protest The Hero has a strong fan base in Canada, the US, and around the world. This album will both please their fans of past albums, and give something to those who doubted they would last at all. Fortress is truly written for everyone, including people who just like rock and alternative music in general. The vocals, guitar and bass riffs, and drum beats will be stuck in your head, not for their catchiness, but for the general amazement you feel from hearing them. Fortress improves upon Kezia in so many ways, though it really doesn't replace Kezia. It really is on even ground with Kezia in my opinion. That being said, the band has released something that they needed to release. This album truly will define the band down the road. Everyone will enjoy this album, no matter what their taste is in rock or metal or hardcore music.