Volition review by Protest the Hero

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  • Released: Oct 29, 2013
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (98 votes)
Protest the Hero: Volition
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Sound — 8
Protest The Hero was formed in Canada in 2001, and released their first EP just a year later in 2002. Since that time they have reached an international audience with their unique blend of high energy prog metal and thrash metal. The founding members remained unified in the band until early 2013 when the original drummer, Moe Carlson, left the band to pursue an engineering career. Chris Adler (from Lamb Of God) acted as the studio drummer for "Volition," and since that time it has been announced that Mike Ieradi will be filling in as the new full time drummer (though he didn't take part in the recording of this album). "Volition" has 11 tracks and clocks in at just under 55 minutes. The album contains several guests on vocals, guitar and even violin. The album opens up with the track "Clarity," which opens up with a little riff syncopated with the drums and the vocals come in with an almost '80s style hair metal screaming. The vocals quickly change up to a more modern approach, with some screamed lyrics interspersed in the track. Jadea Kelly provides some guest vocals on "Clarity," who you might remember for her guest vocals and pretty much everything that Protest The Hero has released with the exception of their first EP. The next track is "Drumhead Trial," probably thus named for the heavy as sh-t drumming through the whole track. Kayla Howran provides some guest vocals on the track, and Ron Jarzombek provides some guest guitar work - but I'm not sure who they are (possibly some large contributors to the Indiegogo crowd-funding?). The track has a cool vibe, and the vocals by Kayla Howran especially serves as a cool counterpoint to Rody's vocals. "Tilting Against Windmills" starts out with my favorite riff from the entire album, that is a kind of weird ascending pattern. This is one of two tracks on the album that don't have guests participating (except for, of course, Chris Adler, who does an excellent job on the drums). There are, however, some crowd vocals during parts of the song, but they aren't credited. "Without Prejudice" is the fourth track on the album, and includes guest vocals once again by Jadea Kelly. Rody's vocal melodies on this track remind me of Freddie Mercury at times, and remind me what an excellent vocalist Rody is. "Yellow Teeth" is up next and includes Jadea Kelly with some guest vocals, Wyatt Schutt providing some guest guitar work, and Raha Javanfar playing violin. This track is one of the highest-energy tracks from the album with a lot of interesting little guitar-fills. "Plato's Tripartite" (once again containing guest vocals from Jadea Kelly), is another track with a cool-unique vibe to it. "A Life Embossed" contains guest vocals by Mark Iannelli and AJ Kolar, and this is another one with some seriously heavy drumming and some deep growled vocals during some passages. There is also some neo-classical guitar going on during the track – good stuff. "Mist" contains guest violin by Raha Javanfar, and this is another track where it really shows that Rody's vocals do a lot pushing the band from a good band to an excellent band. "Underbite" is up next, and this track has some heavy punk-related influences going on and some interesting lyrics. Todd Kowalski provides guest vocals on the track. "Animal Bones" is next up, and this is the 2nd track from the album to not contain any guest appearances (again, with the exception of Chris Adler on drums), and a lot of vocal and musical variety going on in the track – the vocal and guitar melodies going on during parts of this song definitely make this my favorite track from the album. The album closes out with the track "Skies," which has a very soft intro and includes Kevin Lewis, Josh Hainge, and Marc Palin as guest vocalists. The track quickly moves into some heavier territory, and even includes some death metal style vocals in a few passages. The mixing on the album is impeccable, especially on the drums - too bad Chris Adler is only acting as studio drummer on this album - we'll have to see what the new guy, Mike Ieradi has to offer on the next album.

Lyrics — 8
Rody Walker has some seriously impressive range, and he definitely shows it off on this album. Some stand out guest vocals would be Kayla Howran and Jadea Kelly. Jadea Kelly has been a nice addition on all of their albums. Something that I really enjoy about Protest The Hero's lyrics is that they seem to be somewhere between narrative and surreal, which keeps me interested in listening to what Rody is saying. As a sample of some of the lyrics from the album, here are some lyrics from the track, "Clarity": "Without a word uttered/ a comparison drawn/ a distant future/ a cluttered past amid the stars/ vague and persistent/ though lacking consistency/ unwilling vitim of farce/ the loudest voices scream uninspired/ their numbers vast/ their spirits drowned/ quiet choices sing against the choir/ the majority is almost never wrong/ never wrong."

Overall Impression — 8
I thoroughly enjoyed this album - despite the album remaining high energy throughout, it felt like there was a lot of variety in the sound and it definitely kept me interested. My favorite tracks from the album would have to be "Animal Bones" and "Drumhead Trial," but I'm sure that everybody is going to have their own opinions on that. When you see an artist using crowd-funding, in my experience, the end result always seems to be hit or miss - this is definitely a winner, though. This album may have very well moved me from a casual fan of the band, to a rabid fanboy. Awesome album.

71 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Iaroslav
    LOL, "Ron Jarzombek provides some guest guitar work - but I'm not sure who they are (possibly some large contributors to the Indiegogo crowd-funding?)." Ron Jarzombek is the founder of Spastik Ink & Blotted Science. Great album, btw!
    Shotgunmerc
    Seriously, Jarzombek is ****ing great, most people should know his name, even if it's hard as shit to spell/say
    EyesWideOpen
    I wish Ron was more well known. He is literally one of the most talented and experimental metal guitarists in the business.
    kratos379
    The reviewer could have easily just googled their names. It's why I'm hesitant to ask questions on the internet. It's quicker to just google it and you don't risk looking like an idiot. Anyone who doesn't know Ron Jarzombek should really look up his music. It's great stuff.
    yuyinyu
    This review and the reviewer look unprofessional after reading this line. How the fxxk can a professional reviewer(if he is) in metal music (particularly in the genre of progressive metal) doesn't even know who Ron Jarzombek is!!!! This doesn't make sense. It's ridiculous!!!!!
    N-D
    Kayla Howran is also country singer - but she is not famous as Ron
    moostifur
    Reviewer lost all credibility, in my opinion, after I read that. I mean, you are reviewing a tech/ prog metal album and you don't know about one of the most prolific guitarists of the genre? At least do a little research...
    The Spoon
    Everyone can say whatever they want about the album, but I'd say they made a damn good use of the fans' money.
    crispykids
    Chris Adler's drum work on this was subtle and clean and it shows his maturity as a musician by letting everyone else take front and center; excellent control throughout the album
    Rookskerm
    A Life Embossed's lyrics put me off of the song. The rest of the album is awesome
    vppark2
    I dont see anything wrong with them. If anything, I thought they were incredibly real. My favorite part would have to be the last verse. "I’m proud of every pit bull, but ashamed of my own country. I oppose any legislature that should try and stop me And if a pit bull is a weapon, you’ll have to pry them And if a pit bull is a weapon, you’ll have to pry them I won’t stop until they lift these, these ridiculous bans. And if a pit bull is a weapon, you’ll have to pry them And if a pit bull is a weapon, you’ll have to pry them from my cold, dead hands."
    jas6nq
    People aren't used to artists expressing an opinion through song any more so I think they're pretty surprised and put off by it. But it's stupid, that's what music is for.
    sukittrebek
    Agreed. I like the music in that song a lot, and the lyrics are a good idea and one I agree with, but they're just too in your face
    SGofawesome
    I disagree myself - I think that's what I like about the song and what makes it one of my favorites on the album. The forward position on the song vocally and lyrically are pretty different and intriguing to me.
    Vadrae21
    I originally wrote it off because of the subject matter, as it stood out as being kinda cheesy. But then when you actually get past that you realize its a great ****ing song, I mean, how can you hate someone who can sing so passionately about dogs!
    LordThon
    The single most ****ing bone-crushingly metal song about puppies.
    dabbsy100
    gotta remember that a lot of their eeeearly stuff was pretty damn political and in your face...it's good to see that they still care and feel passionately enough about supposed injustices that they want to write about them..
    Vadrae21
    ^everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but what the **** are you smoking?
    Rands2113
    I love this album got it a couple days ago from the pre-order. This review felt very brutal to read. It didn't feel like a UG review of a very anticipated album. It could be how repetitive it was while going through all the songs or the lack of info they had on the guest guitarist.
    Ibanezrocker800
    Anyone who thinks this album is short of incredible should to get off their high horse. It's okay to think something with a lot of hype is great if it actually is, and Volition delivers the goods. Fretwork is unbelievable, drumming is naturally incredible by Adler, and Rhody's voice is killer without sounding annoying.
    GS LEAD 5
    Is embossed about pit bulls?
    Krauser
    Yeah, Canada passed anti-pitbull legislation and it's pretty much just about how that's ridiculous. Everyone says the lyrics are too "in your face" but that's the point. That's what I love about that track. The whole band are notable dog lovers so it's cool that they just said screw it and made a really upfront song about the situation rather than a song with lyrics shrouded in metaphor. I think it's way more effective as the upfront track that it is, especially considering it's intent as a song.
    ColdHeartedHero
    The albums absolutely amazing. To avoid being called a fanboy, I'm going to give it a 9.5. a lot of variety on this album. Rody has improved as a vocalist immensely. So happy for these guys.
    shredder3386
    Album of the year for me and possibly the best thing they've ever done. So much variety and I really dug the guest vocalists on many of the tracks. So glad my money helped this album get made, they deserve all the praise they're getting and more.
    chhang
    Critically i would give it an 8 as well but for different reasons. I still think its one of the best albums of the year though
    CapnKickass
    I love how the album sounds. The little bit of reverb on the guitars makes it all the more sweet. Heavy yet airy sounding.
    Krauser
    Not sure whether this album or Tesseract's Altered State are best album of 2013 for me. I'm erring on the side of Tesseract because that album was just an absolute experience, but Volition is absolutely phenomenal. All I know is that this deserves way more than an 8. This is easily a 9 or 9.5 album as far as I'm concerned. The guitar work is absolutely insane, the vocals are excellent, the drumming is damn good, and the production/mixing is top notch. I really can't fault anything about this record.
    Shreddinator666
    This might just be my new favorite album of this year, they are one of the few bands left that consistently don't disappoint me.
    s4ms1de
    Skies is just a masterpiece, not a huge fan of PTH but man, what a great song!
    vguitars3577
    instrumentally...love it, vocally, not the biggest fan. At times, I think it is awful. However, I'll give it more time to really respect what they've made.
    Krauser
    I felt the same way the first time I listened to Periphery. I was on the fence about the vocals for a while, but I grew accustomed to them quickly and Periphery became one of my favorite bands. I started listening to Periphery before I really got into PtH, so I was already accustomed to that vocal style, but I adore PtH's vocals now.
    ferilyne
    I feel everybody is too biased about this album. It's nothing remarkable, probably the worst thing to come out of PTH. Every song just sounds the exact same as the last and there's barely anything at all that sticks out. I really wanted to buy this, but after hearing it I'm having second thoughts.
    crazysam23_Atax
    I've only listened to a few songs on Youtube, and I can already say you must not be listening to PtH's Volition. Whatever you just described, it isn't Volition.
    Pyrotechie
    I think I understand what you're trying to get across, albeit in a slightly less aggressive manner. This album, while still PtH(which is ****ing awesome), just doesn't feel as "inspired" as the past few. Now, I hate to be the "old albums sound better" guy, but that's the matter in my opinion. Vocally, the clean/scream distinction of Fortress, Kezia, and(to some extent)Scurrilous was a very noticeable factor of what made Protest The Hero unique. That's been tuned down a lot, and it saddens me quite a bit. Besides the vocals, this is a VERY strong album. But this is just my opinion.
    i_am_metalhead
    I have to disagree. Rody's vocals are better than ever on this album, imho. He definitely displays his amazing vocal range more so on this album than he has on previous efforts. While there may not be as much flashy instrumental work as there has been on previous albums (although there is still enough to appease the "shred lover" in us all) and it definitely isn't nearly as progressive as Scurrilous, but I feel that it is their most cohesive album to date. The songs all flow together nicely and carry a similar vibe which makes it feel like you're listening to one solid piece of art rather than a bunch of separate pieces that are held together with scotch tape. Also, Chris Adler has done an amazing job, imo, of filling Moe's shoes and keeping a very PTH feel to his drumming style.
    The_Wilrus
    It's the PTH cycle. Melody and hooks album then something crazy balls to the walls. At least Scurrilous to Volition was less of a shock to the system. Like Fortress Volition took about 15 listens to fully appreciate everything they are doing. We should just be happy to have them making music.
    Morphogenesis26
    Didn't enjoy this album. It sounded too much like their last couple of albums and musically was much more confined and "choking" in it's atmosphere. There was some nice chorus's, but the Rody's vocals have become way to formulaic, along with the predictable, "we're going to write a lead line that's all pretty and then go into some dissonance" guitar lines that plague this album that plagued the last 2. I also feel that Kayla was a useless inclusion on the album since her vocals are so similar to Rody's; it makes it sound like Rody is still singing everything, whereas, on Kezia her vocals were much more defined when compared to Rody's. So, yeah. Not a fan of the album at all.
    vppark2
    I really see nothing wrong with the vocals at all. If anything, they have gotten better.
    crazysam23_Atax
    What I don't get is how you can listen to stuff like Duobetic Homunkulus and then talk about how you can't stand the formula that PtH uses. I know you're apparently against cliches (the lead line formula being a PtH cliche, in a good way, imho) and all that...but really...
    Morphogenesis26
    @Vppark2: As far as vocal ability goes, I agree, Rody has gotten much better, but I simply find his voice not to my tastes. @Crazysam: I don't like that cliche because my ears are tired of it/simply do not enjoy it. I enjoy Duobetic Homunkulus because of their wonky melodies and fun compositions, whereas I find this PtH album tired and predictable.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Well, I must disagree with your view that it's tired and predictable. Yes, by PtH standards, their formula could be called a bit predictable (as they've been using the same basic formula since Kezia). But I don't see that as a bad thing. All bands have their own kind of stylistic-isms in their songwriting, and this new album is a solid example of PtH stylistic-isms. I don't think they were looking to do anything too crazy right now. Hell, they just lost their original drummer, right before the album was recorded. It's not a good idea to do a bunch of crazy/experimental stuff when recording with a session drummer. Might as well do "tried and true", especially when you know your fans will enjoy it.
    Morphogenesis26
    As for the first paragraph: Yep, I just really don't like that style. Second paragraph: Well, given that it's not any different from Fortress or Scurrilous, I don't think they were planning on doing anything different, regardless of their drummer leaving. I don't want innovation from them, I just have seen so much hype for this album on the internet lately, gave it a listen, and came out highly disappointed due to it being unable to meet it's high acclaim, along with the fact that it doesn't sound any different from their previous work, which I did not enjoy either.
    crazysam23_Atax
    It sounds more like you just aren't a big fan of this particular style of Prog than anything else, man. /shrug
    Morphogenesis26
    That's all I was saying to begin with... I don't really know what this style of prog is. There PtH and THA and that's as far as I've gotten, unless you include Sikth.
    Drapte
    UG team '8' Wow I feel sincerely sorry for anyone who takes that seriously. This album is easily one of if not the best album to be released in metal this year. It is quite easily a 10 in my opinion. This is album is a masterpiece.
    jas6nq
    I think a fellow user should do a proper review. For an UG Team review this is not very well written or long enough to get a full impression of the album. Additionally, one reviewing a progressive metal album ought to have heard the name Ron Jarzombek at least once before.
    Slayton101
    I'm probably going to be sent to the fire pit of the internet for saying this, but I feel like Rody Walker has this comfort zone in singing style that he doesn't want to leave often. He has a killer range, but he almost always is singing either at a quarter note or eighth note pace. It kills me because it starts to feel repetitive quick.With that said, I still loved some parts of what I heard, but I feel like very small things like what I mentioned are going to add up, if not right now then down the road.7/10 by honest standards (10/10 being top albums ever)10/10 by UG standards (10/10 being good enough to buy)