Through a highly successful Indie Go-Go campaign, fans fronted almost $350,000 to make a new full length studio album. In the midst, high expectations departing original drummer Moe Carlson raised the bar even higher. Hired Lamb of God skinner Chris Alder has got the chops of a butcher but does he match the Protest the Hero’s cleaner, more colorful variant of metal. Volition makes for awesome surprises, comfortably fitting into the band’s catalog while continuing to shove the band forward in sound and success.
Singer Rody Walker’s pipes have always been somewhere between narrative, post hardcore and whaling power metal. I can even smell a hint of pop punk in the vocal delivery. This uniqueness typically causes love ‘em or hate ‘em criticisms. I believe Volition will escalate that divide. recurring female guest singer Jadea Kelly makes her most appearances on a Protest the Hero album. There’s a plethora of guests, mostly vocal, on the album. The chatting fits the vibe of a community or collective album. Bringing everyone together, perhaps a positive catalyst of their crowd funding. Rody’s fun, provocative lyrics continue to grow, holding importance to the band’s lighthearted yet honest messages while never shying away from dropping an occasional f-bomb. What I believed to be warnings of abandoning all harsh vocals, the band seems to have brought back their growl/sing dynamic that was so loved on their Fortress effort. Some very interesting experimenting with the gang vocals this time around and very meaty death metal appearance by Pterodactyl King members. PTH’s gang vocals have evolved theatrically with the music. At times, they become more like choir singing. They strengthen parts swaying on the fringe between the two.
“We are nothing without the thousands of voices that make the choir.” – Animal Bones
Speaking of dynamic gang vocals. I found it ironic that current The Kindred (Today I Caught the Plague) drummer Mike Ieradi fill Moe’s position post Volition recording. You can tell Today I Caught the Plague has definitely been drinking the same Canadian prog water as Protest. This album is a guitar player’s (and bassists, and drummers, and vocalists) wet dream! How fitting to feature the criminally underrated Ron Jarzombek? By track 2 you can already hear some of Luke Hoeskin and Tim Millar’s most challenging guitar work yet. The rest of the album continues to out shred itself without becoming too self-indulgent or straying too far from the song. Chris Adler held his own keeping up with 5 string bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi in the rhythm section. Though he might not (or may) have written the drum parts I hear him nail so many awesome parts that you would never hear in a Lamb of God song. His range as a drummer is renown. He seamlessly adapted to Moe Carlson’s style while still putting his own stamp on it. Bravo.
Protest the Hero have always been consistent with quality of visuals in their packaging. Volition is no exception. Slightly confusing but great none the less, there are 3 album covers. 2 by Jeff Jordan and one by Dan Mumford. It’s great to see graphic artists getting this much love from a successful band. Dan Mumford’s shrunken ship resurrection, exclusive to Indiegogo contributors, rules hard. His colorful, bold, and hard-edged style compliments the band’s sound perfectly. Though it’s impossible not to love the naked woman being attacked by vulture-Borg, I like Jordan’s o-card cover the best. The mixture of vulture-Borg humor with the vibe or an old school progressive rock LP cover sends it over the top.
A very impressive delivery considering the pressure they had to conceive this album with. Volition goes even further with guitar playing sharing the foreground. When they are up front, it gets technical and dazzling. A bold and impressive move considering the expectations and hype of 8,360 fans who bought the album before hearing a single note. All of them won’t be music academic students but they’ve found a way to love it and I’m no different. There’s something for everyone but the quality and originality of Volition far out reach the cliché.
Volition makes for awesome surprises, comfortably fitting into the band’s catalog while continuing to shove the band forward in sound and success.