Sound — 8
Protest the Hero has come a long way from the days of A Calculated Use Of Sound. Between Kezia and Fortress, they created a signature sound composed of equal parts power chords, chromatics, and staggering technique. On Scurrilous, they have stayed very true to that signature sound. From the very first twiddly bit on opening track C'est la Vie to the fading runs of Sex Tapes (pun fully intended), the sound that made their name on Kezia and carved it into stone on Fortress is still there in its true glory. That said, the rhythm department is all-too frequently neglected in favor of guitarist Luke Hoskin's twiddly technical passages, which begin to run together. That and the harmonies on Tapestry recall Dragonforce a little more than this reviewer would care for. That said, a band can be criticized for staying *too* true to form. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with Scurrilous. Some allege that this album is composed of outtakes from Fortress. While that isn't quite true for this album, that such a claim has been leveled against as original a band as Protest the Hero speaks volumes. The rhythm department is all-too frequently neglected in favor of guitarist Luke Hoskin's twiddly technical passages, which begin to run together. That and the harmonies on Tapestry recall Dragonforce a little more than this reviewer would care for. All of that criticism aside, this album contains some of this band's finest moments. Opening track C'est la Vie is a prime example of this, showcasing singer Rody Walker's vocal talents fully. Harmonies between guitarists Luke Hoskin and Tim Millar are delightful, especially in the jazzy solo passage midway through the song. Dunsel and Termites feature a synthesis of Kezia's hardcore-influenced sound and the technical brilliance of Fortress, especially in the latter case. Bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi steps up on Hair Trigger and Dunsel, showing that the bass end isn't lacking in any way at all. Finally, drummer Moe Carlson remains as competent as ever, improving on the grooves he has honed since high school, proving that drummers certainly needn't be scraped from the bottom of the barrel, especially considering the whirlwind of technicality that his bandmates throw at him time and again.
Lyrics — 7
Scurrilous marks the first time someone other than Arif has written lyrics for Protest the Hero. The lyrics to three tracks (C'est la Vie, Moonlight, and Sex Tapes) were written by Arif, but the remaining seven were penned by none other than Rody himself. Furthermore, this album is not a concept album, nor does it feature smaller linked stories as was the case with Kezia and Fortress, respectively. The lyrics are at times personal introspective (Hair Trigger and Tandem) and, at others, terrible (Tapestry and Reign Of Unending Terro). The highest points of this album, surprisingly, are not always those written by Arif. C'est la Vie is a masterpiece of writing, no doubt about it, but the introspection of Dunsel, Tongue and Termites mixed with the familiar Protest the Hero sound is overwhelming in equal measure. Sex Tapes marks another first: a funny Protest song. Flying in from left field, Sex Tapes is an easy target for criticism, but to the open minded listener, one unobstructed by the need for repetition, will find that the aesthetic that Protest the Hero has built over the years is still there, even thought it's wearing a shark suit instead of a t-shirt. Rody Walker is in true form on Scurillous. Possibly one of the best and most versatile singers in the metal scene today, he manages to interweave his vocal melodies with the complicated sound the rest of the band manages to create. High points of Rody's vocal melodies can be seen in C'est la Vie, Dunsel, Termites, and (believe it or not) Sex Tapes.
Overall Impression — 9
Scurrilous is not the most progressive thing Protest the Hero has ever done, regardless of what the band has stated in interviews. Similarly, the songs are not Fortress rejects. For a band that has progressed so dramatically between albums, slowing down that progress might as well be regression for die-hard fans. Where every single song on Kezia and Fortress was a unique entity, these colors do occasionally run. However, that is not to say that Scurrilous is a poor album. Some of Protest the Hero's finest moments are to be found. While some of the songs are sinkers, the majority of Scurrilous is Protest the Hero, true to form and full of gusto despite a full plateful of tours bookending their studio time. The sound of Fortress is definitely here along with the hardcore melodies of Kezia and something entirely new: a synthesis of Eddie Van Halen and Django Reinhardt. Yes, Luke abused tapping here. Rody's lyrics weren't as consistently staggering as Arif's. The rhythm section needs to be paid more attention. Despite all of this, songs like C'est la Vie, Tande, Dunsel, Termites, Tongue Splitte, and Sex Tapes still kick with familiar force and have the same mixture of beauty and grit that Protest the Hero has made us love. I have it on several digital copies and a CD, so no fool can rob me of my Protest. Now stop reading the review and listen to Dunsel.