Protest the Hero - Fortress (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Protest the Hero

Fortress (2008)


I'm not sure I will ever be able to look at another skateboard without thinking of Protest the Hero, just like I will probably never listen to Protest the Hero without thinking of skateboarding. While this association may seem odd, I can say without hesitation that learning to kickflip at 22 feels just as strange. With a clean, white Protest the Hero sticker courtesy of an AAM promo package slapped firmly to the bottom of my Blackout skateboard, I saw more of that sticker in one summer than I saw of the charcoal griptape I was trying to land on. And while I eventually found footing on the right side of the rotation with enough practice, the swirling, dicing guitarwork of "Sequoia Throne" will forever be the soundtrack of my late blooming trick arsenal.

Even while Protest the Hero remained a local Canadian sensation buried within the underground of Ontario's ice-covered streets, enfactioned fans bickered over which musical camp the band belonged to, as that of course would determine their "scene." The truth is, that with one foot planted firmly in post-hardcore, one in thrash metal and the third element of the tripod pissing the word "PuNk" into the snow below, Protest the Hero is their own genre. The genre of post-hardcore-punk-metal...core... no, that's not right. There aren't any labels that can confine Protest the Hero.

What's even more thoroughly impressive is the reckless abandon the quintet exerts, never divvying up their strengths and styles to "punk song," "hardcore song," "metal song," etc., but rather emblazoning each track with their own unique mixture. While the opening track "Bloodmeat" whets the listener's appetite with dazzling guitarwork, the angular shredding and unorthodox timing of its successor "The Dissentience" demonstrate an important willingness to lay back on excess and focus on construction, a formula infinitely important in melding in post-hardcore to a composition. However, the album highlight seems rather obviously to be the shape-shifting "Sequoia Throne," bouncing from speed metal to metalcore with the album's most simplistic, yet vexing lyrics as vocalist Rody Walker shouts "They're not the ones to cause us harm -- we are!" The two-part miniseries "Goddess Bound" and "Goddess Gagged" round out the effort in spectacular fashion that's, well, a lot like the rest of the album, with a rich combination of brooding depth and mile-high guitarwork, and with punk veracity steamrolling through every maniacal shout.

Aww shucks, writing this review has got me all nostalgic about the summer that's flown by. But hey, it's not over yet! Maybe I still have time to learn some new maybe how to play guitar like Protest the Hero.

Or, maybe I should save that for next summer.