Scurrilous review by Protest the Hero

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  • Released: Mar 22, 2011
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (109 votes)
Protest the Hero: Scurrilous
7

Sound — 10
It's been 6 years since Canadian quintet Protest the Hero first came onto the scene with Kezia, an album that showcased the group's unbelievable technical abilities as players and songwriters. After 2008's frantic and downright outstanding Fortress, Protest the Hero has cemented themselves as one of progressive metal's top acts. Well, three years later, they're back with their third album, entitled Scurrilous. Now before this review actually begins, a quick word to the wise: crank your stereo and watch out, because this album explodes. Immediately.

Opening track C'est la Vie (a French expression for that's life) bursts with hectic guitars from the moment you push play. It showcases the band's signature sound, with vocalist Rody Walker's vocals soaring over Tim Millar and Luke Hoskin's just plain awesome guitars. Once again, they prove that they can use just about every single fret in a single song, while bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi gets his first spotlight during the song's bridge with some beautiful high notes. The song wraps up with gang vocals and drummer Moe Carlson pounding away like there's no tomorrow. As usual, Protest the Hero begin with a bang, and there really is no doubt that C'est la Vie is one of the best tracks on the album.

Next up we have Hair-Trigger, a slower, more proggy track full of tapping guitars and rolling drums. More astounding bass-work from Arif (see the tapping fills about two minutes in). The chorus is just too catchy, and Rody Walker hits some impossibly high notes before guest vocalist Jadea Kelly (fans will remember her as Kezia from the band's debut) and Walker trade off lyrics. The song ends with a truly fantastic breakdown, and there is almost no way you won't grin when you hear Rody shriek she's cold as ICE!

Tandem, while the longest song on the album (a little over five minutes), sounds like three completely different songs smashed together. It definitely creates a strange effect, but is still chock-full of weird time signatures and sweep picking to please, and ends suddenly. Moonlight, while still full of fantastic guitar work and more kick-ass drumming from Carlson, is probably the most laid-back track on the album. It proves that even Protest the Hero need a breather every once in a while, but is nothing compared to what is to come.

Tapestry features some of the band's most intricate , almost shrill riffing, and shows how much their songwriting has evolved in only 6 years, and features some of Rody's only growls on the album (more on that in the Lyrics section of this review). The vocals hit more notes that fans of the band can only dream of. Rody's fantastic vocals and the song's grandiose tone set the stage perfectly for Dunsel, a crash course in breakdowns (see the last third of the song) and ferocious headbanging.

After the downright groove of The Unending Reign of Terror (damn, that alternate-picking jam halfway in...) comes Termites, another favorite with (as far as I know) Protest's first use of double-tracked vocals.

By now, any first-time listener may be exhausted by the song's lengthy intro, but (as with every Protest the Hero album), Scurrilous really isn't an album you can absorb on the first listen. You'll find yourself revisiting this one a lot, maybe not even to see if you like it, but just to get everything out of it.

The album wraps up with Sex Tapes, beginning with Rody's piercing vocals and including a guest appearance by Propagandhi's Chris Hannah. Everyone in the band is on top form, especially for the song's straight-up Nightmare Before Christmas breakdown. The band lock into a nice groove and (contrary to the sudden end of Fortress) fade out, ending the album.

Lyrics — 9
Anyone interested in Rody Walker's death growls will be disappointed by "Scurrilous". While the album features one of his best vocal performances yet, there is almost no growling (with the exception of some sections of "Tapestry"). On "Scurrilous", Walker's voice soars, hitting some ridiculously high notes and trading in his shrieks for more melody. As already mentioned, Kezia's Jadea Kelly makes her return with some haunting, beautiful lyrics on "Hair-Trigger" while Propagandhi's Chris Hannah bellows perfectly over "Sex Tapes.

Lyrically, the album deals (as far as I can tell) with topics of everyday life in today's society. "C'est la Vie" deals with suicide, with lines such as "Stepped off a chair so he could learn to get loose" and "Stepped off a building to find some concrete evidence". "Hair-Trigger" talks about love, and it's hard not to bang your head when Rody screams "She's cold as ICE!". "Tapestry" features more of these impossibly high vocals, before wrapping up with a commentary on sex tapes on the album's closing track ("Be careful what you're looking at because it might be looking back").

Less shrieking and growling may disappoint some hardcore fans of the band. Vocally, "Scurrilous" may seem like a far cry from the vocal acrobatics that so many fans of Rody Walker love, but with this new direction, his voice has never sounded as powerful or as controlled.

Overall Impression — 9
Make no mistake, this is a different album, even by Protest the Hero's standards. There are no acoustic interludes, and the songs are more laid back than their last album. Rody Walker described "Scurrilous" as a natural progression, and I completely agree. They took some risks and tried different things, but isn't that exactly what progressive music is about? It's not all about amazing guitars and weird time signatures, you know, and "Scurrilous" (as with the rest of the band's material) is second to none.

The album fades out on a happy note; it'll please almost all of the old fans and will surely bring some new ones. But, with "Scurrilous" to add to the band's collection, it'll just make us all ask: "What took you so long?"

44 comments sorted by best / new / date

    EpiExplorer
    Darkkon wrote: tbh, the only real standout for me was the lyrics. I haven't heard lyrics that honest and intelligent in a while.
    True true, they actually have meaning. infinitely better than just 'zombies, glow paint and misogyny' which is what most popular bands seem to be doing these days.. Also, both reviews were pretty un-review-ish, it was like reading a hipster blog.
    ofXoneblood
    I think the lyrics are absolutely horrible. They would be fine in a pop punk band or something, but most of the time it sounds like Rody just used a rhyming dictionary to throw everything together. That being said, musically, I think it's stellar. From front to back. There's not really a low point on the album (other than the lyrics.)
    frankibo
    I thought Kezia was a great album but a few of the songs seem to have sections that are a bit to similar to each other, they were a band still finding their sound at the time IMO. I thought Fortress was amazing, flawless. I think Scurrilous is really good, better then Kezia but I'm not sure if it's better then Fortress, Fortress blew my mind, maybe there isn't enough left of my mind to blow again? Have to say I disagree with one of the early commenters, Sex Tapes is my favourite song, love that shit. C'est la Vie, Hair Trigger and Tapestry also stand out.
    Abom
    Tandem's probably my personal favorite; the last 30 seconds or so are nothing short of astonishing. Dunsel and C'est la Vie are other favorites. Sex Tapes is alright and probably would have been another favorite if the lyrics weren't so head-over-balls idiotic.
    fartsyjoe420
    fortress really grabbed me, and this album fully delivered on all of my expectations, which is very rare these days. 9/10.
    GodzillaDeth
    Sam Wotrey wrote: These guys are the better version of BTBAM imho.
    ehh they are pretty different bands so id say half n half for me
    ProgJazzMath
    Sam Wotrey wrote: These guys are the better version of BTBAM imho.
    ? Between The Buried and Me & Protest The Hero are two way different monsters man. BTBAM is extremely metal bro, PTH aren't. Don't get me wrong, I love them both though.
    MRoby
    This album really surprised me. I never had really listened to PTH much, and when I decided "let's ACTUALLY give them a listen" I was tentitive at first. Then, as I gave the album a whole listen, my brain was pretty much like; "H O L Y S H I T" So, I enjoy this album a ton, more than their others, too. (But they're fantastic as well.)
    frankibo
    We ALL listened to streams, we're proactive. I have to say that as much as the lyrics are stooopid in some parts I actually quite like them. Also Hair-Trigger grows on me more and more each day.
    shockdoctor92
    even though ive known about the leak for awhile, im still waiting for my pre-order copy to listen to it fully. i heard a few songs on the AOL stream and they blew me away!! cant wait to just spend some time in my car blasting this record
    Ranaro
    IMO, their best album yet. The lyrics were brilliant, vocals just astonishing and nevertheless, guitars were inspiring. Had the story of Kezia, and the technicality of Fortress.
    ziproman
    They did it again. Scurrilous is quite a step forward. Better than Fortress? I'm not sure yet. I give Fortress a 9.8. Scurrilous would score a 9.4. I give it less for it not being a concept album. That's just me being a prick though. DONT GET ME WRONG! This is some epic rock! Every song is different rock monster. The only low note for me would be Sex Tapes. The lyrics were a little below their talent level, even though I enjoyed them saying they want one of the Jonas Brothers to die. Yeah. I'd sign that petition! I liked the flow between shredding, driving rock, and breakdowns. Rody's voice is such a great compliment to the music. If anyone watched PTH's videos on facebook, you can tell they've been burning to release this and cover the world with their glorious rock. If this album doesn't win awards, then the world should end. And when it's ending, they should play Bloodmeat really, really loud.
    Alpha_Wolf
    Dang there's a lot of comments on here for an album that (technically) hasn't even been released yet.
    atreyumetallica
    ha yesterday i bought this in walmart on the 18th but it's not out till the 22nd i thought:p:S? and this album is the just a masterpeice it tops fortress for sure
    mferguso88
    Sex Tapes is alright and probably would have been another favorite if the lyrics weren't so head-over-balls idiotic.[/quote] au contraire, sex tapes is awesome because of the lyrics. it shows that they can still kickass while writing some jokes lyrics. and Arif wrote those, im sure he wrote those with the intention of them being ridiculous be careful what you're looking at because it might be looking back
    StewieSwan
    Overall i think it's a pretty solid effort. I was disappointed by the extreme lack of catchy melodies that I'd expect from this band, but the guitar work is definitely a step up from the last album. 7/10 for now.
    jas6nq
    C'mon where is the UG review of this, theirs is the only opinion i want
    xXChimairaXx
    i think these guys are on drugs or some sort of music steroids. no human could make this music
    ShrimpthePimp
    xXChimairaXx wrote: i think these guys are on drugs or some sort of music steroids. no human could make this music
    +1. They get better and better. They are amazing.
    Pat_s1t
    larrytheguitar wrote: Many great songs. My favorites have to be C'est La Vie, Hair-Trigger, Tandem, and Termites. I absolutely loathed Sex Tapes.
    Me too. Arif has written some amazing lyrics in the past, I'm not sure why they let Rody write them for this album. Most of them range from alright to terrible IMO. I'll probably stick with Fortress for my main PTH listenings.
    larrytheguitar
    Many great songs. My favorites have to be C'est La Vie, Hair-Trigger, Tandem, and Termites. I absolutely loathed Sex Tapes.
    Darkkon
    tbh, the only real standout for me was the lyrics. I haven't heard lyrics that honest and intelligent in a while.
    Vadrae21
    Amazing album, Definitely a different beast then Fortress or even kezia, And it took a few listens to really soak in, But goddamn is it amazingly awesome.
    ihavenoname93
    its a solid album IMO. fortress was always gonna be a tough one to top. they didnt quite do it, but it was by no means a dissapointment
    Necrosaber
    I absolutely loved this album. Rank it even better than Fortress. The production on this one is pretty damn awesome, too.
    ColdHeartedHero
    This is absolutely their best album to date. Its combined the emotion of Kezia and ability of Fortress to make an excellent album. The production on Fortress now seems to be way overdone after listening to Scurrilous. Scurrilous seems to have a much more natural sound with Rody hitting notes that seem more plausible while playing them live
    barden1069
    How on earth has everyone heard this already? Is it streaming somewhere I don't know about, or did they release it early?
    Pat_s1t
    barden1069 wrote: How on earth has everyone heard this already? Is it streaming somewhere I don't know about, or did they release it early?
    We all got a leak about a month ago. I myself have had it since February 19th.
    Sinister Waffle
    'Merican wrote: garret.wilk wrote: Loved Kezia, HATED Fortress. Leary on this one.... Wat. IMO, Fortress is their best..
    Listen to Kezia front to back and learn the story. fortress, though amazing, does not top kezia as far as an all around perfect album. on topic. you forgot how powerful Tandems lyrics are Arif also wrote C'est La Vie, Moonlight and Sex tapes.
    X DogBert X
    barden1069 wrote: How on earth has everyone heard this already? Is it streaming somewhere I don't know about, or did they release it early?
    well they actually put a stream up on the internet a few days ago but it must be gone by now. also the album leaked. ****ing amazing album Protest the Hero does not disapoint.
    Pat_s1t
    X DogBert X wrote: barden1069 wrote: How on earth has everyone heard this already? Is it streaming somewhere I don't know about, or did they release it early? well they actually put a stream up on the internet a few days ago but it must be gone by now. also the album leaked. ****ing amazing album Protest the Hero does not disapoint.
    This too, they were streaming the whole album on AOL. I keep forgetting that Scurrilous isn't supposed to be out yet.
    ProgJazzMath
    Fucking amazing band. I've been playing out fortress since the day it came out and now I am stoked for this new release.
    'Merican
    garret.wilk wrote: Loved Kezia, HATED Fortress. Leary on this one....
    Wat. IMO, Fortress is their best..
    imperialfury
    was kinda hoping for another story/concept album lyrically but I'm gonna have to pick this up anyway, everyone in the band is insane
    Roybordom
    Anyone else get a kick out of the fact that the album isn't released for another week and there's already a review written for it and there are several people with traceable usernames writing about how they've listened to it and what their thoughts are on it?