Protest The Hero came into the light a few years ago with their sophomore album, “Kezia”, to much fanfare and much polarizing of several fanbases. The boys from Canada had matured much from their debut album “A Calculated Use of Sound”, juxtaposing slithering leads, blazing double-tap sections, crushing riffs, and catchy hooks all together to form their own version of the now ubiquitous mathcore style, but with enough signature style to stand out, for better or for worse.
Two years after “Kezia” made its splash (Three counting the original Canadian release), PTH has returned with “Fortress”, in the hopes of recapturing some of that intial glory. For the most part, these five extremely talented musicians (The average age of the band is under 21 years old) have yet again carved out a sonic masterpiece. If you liked “Kezia”, you will love “Fortress”.
From the get-go, PTH is ready to show they aren’t simply a one-trick pony: The blistering leads are there, enforced, and even more complex than before. Their presence isn’t as saturated as it was in previous albums, but they are used to greater effect. The chugging riffs have even disappated somewhat, and in the place of these PTH has brought out the big chords: Massive-sounding, epic, legato chords that give the songs on “Fortress” a much more epic feel than any of the previous albums. The bass has taken a much higher priority in the mix this time as well, and that is extremely fortunate: The bass lines slide and wiggle inbetween the guitars and drums, rarely mimicing the two young virtuosos as it creates another layer to the overall sonic blast.
The sticking point is the same as it was before: The falsetto wails of Rody Walker, while much more controlled and somewhat more spaced out, are still present. If you couldn’t get past him before, don’t bother this time.
As PTH has progressed musically, their comparisons have as well: The fact that Rush and Queen comparisons are now surfacing as opposed to Dillinger Escape Plan and Thursday are a testament to this band shedding their inexperience and finding their own sound.
The progressive world is better for this album. Highly recommended.