The high energy progressive metallers Protest The Hero headlined Camden’s Koko venue with support from some of the hottest names in the ever-growing world of prog metal (and Palm Reader, who stick out a bit). Nevertheless, here’s what we learned…
There’s Something Missing From Palm Reader’s Set
The Palm Reader live experience only conveys a small proportion of their appeal. They are aggressive and undoubtedly capable in person, but don’t get a chance to display that current of regret and emotion that sets debut Bad Weather so far above their so-called contemporaries. They give new track I Watch The Fire Chase My Tongue an airing, and it’s raw and savage, and leaves your stomach on the floor when the breakdown drops. An exciting insight into what upcoming album Beside The Ones We Love is about.
The Contortionist Are Wolves In Sheeps’ Clothing
The Contortionist look untouched by their rapid ascendancy to the upper echelons of the technical metal elite. Loafers and khakis are the order of the day – a new uniform for the post-Between The Buried And Me generation. It’s all a big ruse though, designed to mislead; their music is a mesh of sweet vocals, overt technicality and shuddering riffs, pockmarked with Mike Lessard’s merciless growl. Language, parts one and two, from their new album of the same name, saunters between ethereal transcendence and barbarism. The moments of savagery are used sparingly though, and it sounds brilliant within the genteel climes of Koko. With all this, who gives a fig if they look like they’ve spent all their beer tokens at Debenhams?
**The Safety Fire Lose Their Way **
Yet another band who haven’t quite matched their live delivery to their studio output, The Safety Fire are without a bassist tonight, and are somewhat lacklustre. Sean McWeeney’s typically versatile and high-ranging vocals are a little lost in the muddy PA, only breaking cover during the top notes. After a thunderous display from The Contortionist, it’s hard to truly get behind the splintered hardcore-goes-progressive fare that is so irresistible on record.
New Friends Haven’t Changed Protest The Hero
Protest The Hero are in rude health. They might have parted ways with bassist and founding member Arif Mirabdolbaghi earlier this year, but their touring replacement, Cam McLellan, has slotted into their mechanism effortlessly. Protest put so much into the intricate technicality of their music, that it’s obvious when they’re not quite on the ball. Hearing them dive into some of modern metal’s most memorable solos without missing a step, goes to show how their musicianship has caught up with their ever-frenetic live experience. They are disgustingly tight.
Rody Gives A Masterclass
If there’s one man who can ride the band’s supremely surgical shredding without getting buried, it’s vocalist and master of ceremonies Rody Walker. Utterly shameless during his mid-song patter and unrelentingly ballsy in his delivery of everything from the billion WPM Sequoia Throne through to the scathing tones of Underbite, he is the sun on a stage of 1000-watt halogen bulbs. Midway through the aforementioned Underbite, Rody howls “It’s bullshit” and the crowds explodes with a sea of middle fingers.
Three Cheers For The New Stuff
We’re not tired of Bloodmeat or_ Sequoia Throne _– these are metal classics of the modern age, titanic exercises in how to be viscerally technical and retain massive hooks. We’re just pleased that Volition came along and gave us a new silo of music that is as suited to a live environment as it is on record. As soon as Clarity gets going, it’s clear that this will soon occupy a place amongst Protest’s live favourites, a track that’s so much bigger in person than it is in the studio. What’s more, the crowd know every word of it and the pit is soon a whirlpool of limbs and hair.
Protest The Hero’s Rody declares his love for Queen in the new issue of Metal Hammer.
Get your hands on the new Metal Hammer here (opens in new tab), or download it (opens in new tab), or read it on TeamRock+.