Protest the Hero

Scurrilous

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Canadian progressive/post-hardcore/punk/thrash metal outfit Protest the Hero's third studio album ditched the keyboards and strings that peppered 2008’s critically acclaimed Fortress. Stripped down, punishing, and more aloof than the two previous albums, the lack of any unifying theme makes Scurrilous a less inclusive outing, though the quintet’s penchant for crafting impossibly precise breakdowns, staccato leads, and unpredictable melodies is far from diminished. This shift from fantasy to the personal feels right for a band whose members are hitting their mid-twenties, and vocalist/lyricist Rody Walker, freed from any kind of conceptual framework, offers up some gems here, touching on everything from cancer (“Tandem”) and mental illness (“Tongue Splitter”) to cigarette addiction (“Hair-Trigger”) and life on the road (“Moonlight”), but it’s Scurrilous' divisive closing track that feels the most evolved. “Sex Tapes,” a fiery and ferocious cautionary tale of sex in the digital age, that manages to work in both the Jonas Brothers and a melody cribbed from Sergei Rachmaninoff, skillfully walks the line between emo parody and powerful social commentary, and while it may not be what fans looking for more Coheed and Cambria-meets-Iron Maiden mysticism were expecting (there is still some of that, specifically on the excellent “Termites”), like the rest of Scurrilous, it’s hard to argue with its execution and conviction.

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