Whenever I first get a CD (whether it be in the mail or from my local record store), I always give the cover art and the way the CD was packaged a good look over. The day I received Kezia, the first full-length album from Protest the Hero, the first thing that came to mind was Obsessions. To all my extremely disappointed 18 Visions fans, I thought of all the money that Trustkill put into the art for that CD and wondered: Has Underground Operations thrown away a lot of money to balance out an underpar album with excellent artwork? Yet after giving Kezia a few spins in my CD player, my worst fears about this album were relieved. For all you Protest the Hero fans, the songs on this album may not be as overtly political as fan favorite These Colors Don't Run, but this album is twice as aggressive as anything else they have ever put out.
Since the Internet presence of this album was so great, I learned that Protest the Hero had a concept for the record. This reminded me of another album that was supposed to have a concept (yes my fellow teen-boppers, that is the suckage that is My Chemical Romance). But I promise Kezia is no Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge; the new Protest the Hero album is at least five times better than the subpar MCR disc. After listening to this CD for the second time and a little surfing on the Internet, I found the album's concept, but lead vocalist Rody Walker says it best:
I can give the cliff notes (of the concept)...the literal translation is there are three characters -- one is a prison priest, one is a prison guard and the other is a girl named Kezia, who is to be executed. Each character represents different personalities of the band and how we're feeling and the shooting to death of a certain aspect of us. All it really is is three songs in each act representing each character and they just describe how the characters are feeling in relation to this scenario.Kezia is all about balancing the aggression of thrash metal, the intensity and passion of hardcore punk, and the crooning of emo-tinged vocals. Being more of a fan of the more aggressive side of Protest the Hero, I have come to like three tracks on the record the most: "Heretics and Killers," "Blindfolds Aside," and "Turn Soonest to the Sea." Protest the Hero have definitely raised the standard for both their songwriting and their music. "Heretics and Killers" shows off a new idea that Protest the Hero had in the studio: They artfully chop up songs (this one especially) with Rody's voice over an acoustic guitar. On "Blindfolds Aside" there is probably one of the best lines in a song I have heard in a long time: "To stone for a sin I didn't care for, but a sin that paid my debts, a sin that fed my children, and burned my smiles and cigarettes" (and these guys were 18 when they made this CD!!!). "Turn Soonest to the Sea" shows off PTH's hardcore influences as the band joins Rody with powerful gang vocals. "Nautical," the first new song available online, was a good choice to get people excited about buying the record, but is not the strongest track PTH has to offer.
In a few words, this album is revolutionary. I can only hope that PTH decide to tour America in support of Kezia soon, as Underground Operations is shopping for a U.S. distributor for Kezia. Now I think I shall go put on my first 5000 pressing limited edition stickers on the lyric sheetâ¦