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CD REVIEW: Protest the Hero - Fortress

Posted on January 28, 2008

FortressIngredients for a Fortress cocktail:

1 part J.R.R. Tolkien

1 part Molson Canadian

2 parts marijuana

1 part Iron Maiden

1 part Dream Theater

Serve on the rocks with a large slice of sweep picking

Oh, and did I mention that they’re barely old enough to concoct such a witches brew? Putting out just their second major full length album, Protest the Hero has sounded the gong waiting at the top of the prog-metal mountain.

A delicious mix of 80’s metal riffs, complex solos, finger tapping galore and lyrics about Genghis Kahn slaying villages make this one hell of a crazy concept album. Taking the fantasy route in their second album, Fortress tells the story of the bloodlust filled, vengeful days of yore, which is pretty out there for a topic, but somehow it manages to work. Although not as relate-able in content as Kezia which wove a tale about a young girl facing her imminent death sentence, Protest the Hero manage to once again really sell their poetic lyrics.

Now let’s talk about the main reason this album is a killer, the guitar work. Noodlers Luke Hoskin and Tim Millar slay their own betrayers with intricate scales and blistering solos, not to mention the few from bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi. The guitar is almost too much at times, but it dances that line well managing to impress more than nauseate.

Overall the music is certainly tighter than its predecessor and worlds heavier in vocal content as well as style. Vocals reach growling lows as well as front-man Rody Walker’s signature high singing style giving a sharp contrast in tone to match the rapidly dancing guitar tones.

Added Keyboard solos from guitarist Luke and some well placed sound effects throughout the disc add a nice touch along with excellent studio production and recording quality complete the disc and give a smooth glossy finish to such a complexly woven work.

The only real thing lacking from this album that Kezia really showcased was a sense of catchy-ness. The last disc was really easy to get stuck in your head, but this one is a little tougher since it is a lot more guitar-centered, though it is hardly enough to keep anyone from picking this one up. This is a must buy for prog-metal fans.