Protest the Hero Fortress

Protest the Hero Fortress
Whitby’s Protest the Hero have grown up before our eyes. Fresh out of high school, the band released the punk-driven A Calculated Use of Sound, an intelligent debut wise beyond its years. Only a few years later, they released Kezia, an epic concept record that caught the attention of metal geeks everywhere. From one album to the next, they’ve have shown tremendous progression. As a result, it comes as no surprise that this year the older, more mature Protest the Hero present Fortress, their most balanced album to date. Fortress is not as convoluted as Kezia. Instead of relying on complicated themes and lyrics, the band focused on their strengths: technical metal guitar riffs and grand melodic choruses that make nearly every song on the album a classic. They don’t abandon all ambitious pretentiousness though, splitting the album up into three-song movements. The album’s first single, "Bloodmeat,” is an ear-shredding chant along with an outro worth many listens. The trippy, almost Arabic-influenced melodies of "Bone Marrow” are a refreshing change from the conventional metalcore breakdowns. And the fast-paced riffs combined with vocalist Rody Walker’s strong vocal lines on "Sequoia Theme” sound like a mishmash of ’80s hair metal and Faith No More. "Spoils” is possibly the best track on the album, showcasing the band’s technical talent as well as their ability to write a great pop song.

Do you think it’s possible to make music that’s challenging and pushing the boundaries but still accessible?
Walker: I think technical music can be popular, Muse made it apparent. I mean, they are shredding arpeggios the whole time. I don’t think that will happen with this band, but we don’t care. We are just happy existing.

You state punk bands like NOFX as an influence. What did you take from that kind of music?
The fun. The speed. The melodies. The great thing about those bands is that they were having fun while writing good songs.

People tend to "geek out” on your music and overanalyse lyrics and themes. What’s something that you geek out to?
Besides music? Star Trek. We stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Vegas where they have the Star Trek Experience and it was the best time of my life. The bartender was a Ferengi and we drank Klingon blood wine!

Considering each drastic progression from album to album, what do you think your next progression will be?
Straight-up grindcore, just blast beats and shredding; I’ll growl the entire time. No. But seriously, who knows? We won’t ever lose the melody though. Singing is the only thing I am passionate about besides alcohol consumption. (Underground Operations/Universal)