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Album Review: Protest The Hero – Palimpsest

Ultra-techy post-hardcore outfit Protest The Hero explore America’s greatness on complex fifth album, Palimpsest

Protest The Hero are like a Warped Tour Dream Theater. With a mission to both bring the mosh and dextrously make use of every single note available, the lane they occupy is a narrow one, but one that, if nothing else, they have done their best to make their own. On Palimpsest, they appear to be trying to cram in what they left out for 2016’s intentionally pared back (for them) Pacific Myth. When they describe it as challenging, even for themselves, you can hear it in every stuffed, calorific run and paradiddle. As a listener, it’s like attempting to eat an entire wedding cake to yourself. 

Thematically, singer Rody Walker explores through these songs the idea of what America means when it speaks of its own greatness’. In this, he’s not only interesting, but intelligently balanced; he points out that Donald Trump’s great America is great only for a minority, but that the country shouldn’t be thrown out with the orange bathwater. Instead, while the bad is addressed, there’s also a sense of celebrating the parts of the country which are genuinely good. 

Knowing this is what gives Palimsest a much-needed heart, because without it, musically it’s a record that’s crafted with expertise and skill, but that feels vacuum-packed into its own perfectly precise remit, squeaky clean enough to perform surgery on. All Hands sounds like an excellent guitarist shredding along to an arcade game, while The Fireside’s precision is robotic. Occasionally, such as on Soliloquy and the rushing The Canary, they muster up some fire to propel themselves somewhere higher, but ironically it’s when they let their impressive musical chops take a back seat that this happens the most.

Ultimately, this is more of the same from Protest The Hero, only with a more interesting lyrical angle. If you’re prepared to go deep, there’s something to be found here, but whether you get that into it depends on how much shredding and cheese you can handle.

Verdict: 2/5

For Fans Of: Coheed & Cambria, Rush, DragonForce

Palimpsest is out now via Spinefarm Records.

Posted on August 7th 2020, 10:30a.m.
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