Protest The Hero – ‘Palimpsest’

By Dave Stewart

Protest The Hero is a name we haven’t seen in a little while, but for a very understandable reason. During a world tour celebrating the ten year anniversary of their second record ‘Fortress’, front man Rody Walker blew out his voice and his worst nightmare became a reality – it didn’t come back after rest. The tour was cancelled due to fears of irreparable damage, and Walker sought out professional help to strengthen and rebuild his voice.

After a few failed attempts and some intense coaching and rehearsal, his vocal chords came back to life and the hunger to release new music began to rumble deeper than ever before. That hunger became their long-awaited fifth album ‘Palimpsest’ and, in Walker’s own words, “I have never worked harder to put out music in my life and I am extremely proud of the product.” The hard work certainly shows and the resulting 52 minutes of new music is beyond worthy of the pride.

The album is kicked off by ‘The Migrant Mother’, thrusting you into the fray in the most dramatic and stunning way possible. The guitar duo of Luke Hoskin and Tim MacMillar sweep you off your feet with a slew of blistering licks before the gargantuan chorus ensures you stay airborne for its full duration. It’s a real jaw dropper of an opener, and they use everything in their power to ensure your mouth stays open for the entire record.

‘From The Sky’ is a six minute epic, crammed full of uplifting melodies and sinister turns that continuously shape-shift into one another before melding into a towering, moving finale. ‘The Fireside’ is a pedal to the metal rage-fest, putting its foot to the floor right from the first note and rocketing through unrelenting riffing, furious vocal delivery and brutish drums, the latter courtesy of newest addition to the band Michael Ieradi. ‘Gardenias’ sounds as though it could’ve been a cut from ‘Fortress’, boasting some brain-melting bass work, effortless guitar trade-offs and some blood-curdling screams from Walker that show off a Jekyll and Hyde-like quality to his voice.

The entire record is belter after belter, the band operating at their highest level throughout. ‘The Canary’ is an emotionally charged telling of the tale of Amelia Earhart, beautifully enhanced with immediately memorable hooks and impassioned vocal delivery. ’All Hands’ combines punk energy, elating melodies, mind-bending prog-influenced vibes and ominous, unexpected twists as they dance together in a truly magnificent display of musicianship. ‘Little Snakes’ is a turbulent roller coaster, ‘Soliloquy’ is a furious adrenaline-fuelled colossus, ‘Rivet’ brings the record to a colourful, tasteful and emotive close – it has a bit of everything. An intense, tempestuous and powerful return to the spotlight.

Simply put, ‘Palimpsest’ is their best record in years. That’s not to say that they’ve released a bad record, because they haven’t, but there’s something special about this album. It’s like a subtle nod to their earlier days, performed by a band that has grown and matured into something far greater than they ever could have imagined. The musicianship is breathtaking from beginning to end, not just in reference to each members individual talents but also to their collective compositional ability. Their story-telling is also as vivid as ever, with Walker’s lyrics and delivery acting as the perfect accompaniment to the illustrious musical landscape. It doesn’t matter if you’ve only just discovered Protest The Hero or if you’ve been a fan for years – you’ll be replaying this record over and over again.

They may have taken their sweet time releasing a new full length, but you’ll forgive them for the wait as soon as you finish listening to the record. It’s both exactly what you’d expect and full of surprises at every turn, taking you on a truly exciting and spellbinding journey. ‘Palimpsest’ is a must listen for long-standing fans of the band as well as fans of the genre. Musically mind-blowing, goosebump-inducing progressive music at it’s absolute finest.

DAVE STEWART

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