[Music Review] “Fortress” by Protest The Hero (2008)

Many of you may have read my review of Canadian underground mathcore giants Protest the Hero, and their second studio album Kezia. Well I’m here today to spread the word of Fortress, the third and newest album by the band.

Released in 2008 Fortress is a smashing success the band. It marks a big step foreword from Kezia, but doesn’t stray away from their mathcore/hardcore niche. Upon first listening to this album I was torn. Kezia was a big deal for me, and Fortress at first sounds like a different band. I returned to the album some time later and gave it a full play through. Two words, instant classic.

The group brings back to the table the same impressive mix of sounds as it did in Kezia, and then some. Where that album was a very apparent concept album, Fortress takes the idea to a different area. Kezia told the story of a girl, facing execution, and the thoughts of her, her executioner, and the priest charged with her last rights. Fortress focuses on a general theme, goddess worship. If I had to describe the album to someone questioning the theme I would use the terms: Vikings, pillaging, violence, worship, and awesome.

The  music of Fortress is the crowning glory, a major step forward for the band. Most people can agree, when a band tries new things, chances are the music will suck. Fortress is a testament against just that. The album is similar to Kezia, with the blasting drums, searing guitar riffs and very progressive, free flowing bass line. Where Fortress differs from Kezia is where Kezia was a more pop-esque album (in terms of song style) Fortress takes a more technical approach to its 10 tracks. Singer Rody Walker takes his vocals to many different levels here, creating a more high pitched singing (akin to three inches of blood if you know the band) and even pulls off more guttural growls akin to some of the more main stream death metal and hardcore bands.

The guitar work is absolutely fantastic, featuring more harmonies between Luke Hoskin and Tim Millar. Moe Carlson really shows himself as a drummer with the various beats, ranging from stampeding double bass, to jazz like free form beats. Arif Mirabdolbahi, who also wrote many of the songs for both albums, provides the bass for the album. Most of which consists of him playing the scales and riffs that the guitarists use.

Both albums are similar in many ways. Fortress’ ten tracks span the same blend of music as Kezia, and even include more interludes similar to the one at the end of Blindfolds Aside. Luke Hoskin delivers an absolutely beautiful piano outro, as well as a 16-bit synth solo amidst the chaos of the cd.

Hands down, this is another great album as far as metal is concerned. It has something for everyone, and in my opinion, is what sets Protest the Hero apart from various other acts of the same genre.

Tracks

  • Bloodmeat (3:54)
  • The Dissentience (4:23)
  • Bone Marrow (5:30)
  • Sequoia Throne (3:11)
  • Palms Read (5:06)
  • Limb from Limb (4:22)
  • Spoils (3:43)
  • Wretch (4:12)
  • Goddess Bound (3:35)
  • Goddess Gagged (3:14)

Score: 8.75/10 (Great)

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