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Protest The Hero - 'Scurrilous' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/7a/01/86/1204_ProtestTheHeroScurrilous_1304536243.jpg Hot

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Protest The Hero give old themes a rush of adrenalin with their decidedly modern approach .

The undoubted technical prowess of Canadian progressive metallers Protest The Hero has always, for me at least, been tempered by singer Rody Walker's propensity for screaming and growling when he's quite capable of singing. Now that their third album 'Scurrilous' is finally with us after a three year gap since 'Fortress', I'm sure many of their long term fans will be disappointed that there's hardly any of his vocal excesses on it, but for me it's opened them up to a wider potential audience so hopefully more people will discover their incredible musicianship and some killer tunes because of it.

'Scurrilous' is a veritable riff-fest with more notes per minute than just about any album I've ever heard, the busy drumming of Moe Carlson and astounding twin guitars of Luke Hoskin and Tim Millar just have to be heard to be believed. However, whilst bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi delivers his usual impressive performance on his instrument, he's rather surprisingly left most of the lyric writing to Walker this time out, resulting in a simpler and probably more accessible, if somewhat dumbed-down set of tunes. Arif is still responsible for some of the highlights with the astounding opener 'C'est La Vie' covering the subject of suicide but still managing to be short, catchy and incredibly technical. The following 'Hair Trigger' rocks harder still with more ridiculous riffs and insane bass and drums, and also sees the welcome return of female vocalist Jadea Kelly who adds another dimension to the song the same way she did on the first album, 'Kezia'. 'Tandem' contains many hooks, different riffs and time changes with Walker sounding remarkably like Diamond Head's Sean Harris at times, it's upbeat feel at odds with it's cancer-related subject matter.

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Elsewhere 'Dunsel' is a little simpler in structure with a punk section in the middle and 'Moonlight' has infectious riffs and a soaring vocal, but for me 'Tapestry' doesn't work as well with the time changes sounding like they've been superglued together without really flowing. The closing 'Sex Tapes' has (intentionally?) dumb lyrics which takes away from the fact that it's one of the better tunes musically with a neat double-tracked vocal. I think it's not unfair to say that the first half of the album is better than the second, but I suspect that might just be because the likes of 'The Reign Of Unending Terror', 'Termites' and 'Tongue Splitter' follow the same formula as before and begin to get a bit samey even though each one has plenty to recommend it.

With a great production and an original twist on the progressive metal genre, Protest The Hero give old themes a rush of adrenalin with their decidedly modern approach. If you can imagine Coheed & Cambria jamming with Symphony X (on steroids!) you wouldn't be far wrong. 'Scurrilous' is the first PTH album that I can really listen to and it'll be interesting to see which direction they'll go in from here.

Phil Ashcroft

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