Thanks to Rush and the subsequent adoption of their exploratory ethos by the likes of Voivod and Gorguts, Canada’s status as a breeding ground for top-notch progressive metal has seldom been in doubt.
Protest The Hero have proudly upheld that tradition for the past decade, and while the traits they share with the world of kid-friendly metalcore may deter many prog fans, their fourth album displays real depth and dexterity, and all but the most curmudgeonly listeners will find something to enjoy here.
Propelled breathlessly along by the bewildering percussive skills of stand-in drummer Chris Adler (from imperious metal crew Lamb Of God), furious opener Clarity and schizoid tempo-fest Drumhead Trial strike an astute balance between dazzling technicality and hooks. Rody Walker’s Geddy-esque howl provides a loveable focal point amid a sustained blur of sweep-picked arpeggios and juddering, staccato riffs.
Endearingly eccentric throughout, Volition reaches a gonzoid peak on A Life Embossed, a song with lyrics about Ontario’s recent law banning the ownership or breeding of pitbull terriers, set to Helloween-esque prog metal and rhythmic about-turns.