Yesterday, the gentlemen of Canadian progressive band Protest the Hero released “Clarity”, the first single from their upcoming crowd-funded album Volition. With an exceedingly successful Indiegogo campaign that produced, through fan donation, around THREE TIMES their goal of $125,000 to independently create Volition, Protest the Hero have made some serious promises to eager fans. They vowed to adhere to the high standards of their ever-growing musicianship, and they started their Indiegogo campaign as an experiment to usher in a new era of directly fan-supported music. So, now that it’s been a few months and we’ve received an album title and a release date (October 29th), the question is: will they deliver?
The answer is a resounding YES! “Clarity”, premiered exclusively on Metalsucks.net, reveals a bigger, badder Protest the Hero that has been refined in the fire of the band’s previous works. Instrumentally (specifically guitar-related), the track boasts the dexterously harmonic riffing prowess that was most evident in 2011’s Scurrilous. I don’t use these words lightly – the impeccably voiced guitar work on this track is stunning. If you’ve loved Scurrilous and got a chance to check out the instrumental bonus track “To Porter, With Love”, you know what I’m talking about. Protest has been progressing toward the perfect balance between rhythmic “metal” fury and carefully crafted melody since the release of Fortress, and “Clarity” proves that they are steadily approaching perfection (that glorious, fictional ideal).
Speaking of the track’s sound leads me to my favorite aspect of the single: its production quality. “Clarity” boasts a refined Protest the Hero sound, with all elements of the band present and warm to the ear. New drummer Chris Adler (of Lamb of God fame) sounds just as feathery-thunderous as recently departed founding member Moe Carlson, and Arif Mirabdolbaghi’s bass grooves the entire track together as per usual.
Now to the most immediately noticeable element of the music: the vocals. Rody Walker can just, in my opinion, never not sound awesome. His vocals on “Clarity” take after the melodic-as-ever, declamatory style developed on Scurrilous, and as he claimed on a recent studio update, his voice was recorded as “organically” as possible without the use of effects or over-production. The result is the ever-increasing “personal” quality that Walker unleashed on Scurrilous on beautifully frank tracks such as “Dunsel”, “Tongue-Splitter” and “Hair-Trigger”.
However, unlike on the previous album, Walker seems to be delving into the screamed vocal styles uncovered on Fortress (nowhere near overshadowing his gorgeous melodic croon, to be sure). I think we can expect a lot more screaming on Volition than on Scurrilous, but it will likely be skillfully woven into the album with the kind of art and subtlety that we have come to expect from Protest the Hero. I can’t wait to read the lyrics!
Finally, “Clarity” heralds the return of a Protest the Hero guest appearance favorite, Jadea Kelly, whose brief spot on the track not only adds a much-appreciated feminine presence and foreign quality to the music, but also hints at the possibility of hearing more Kelly on Volition as a whole. After all, the band now has the ability to experiment and branch out as much as they want on this new album; I can’t imagine them confining Kelly’s contribution to a single, understated (albeit beautiful) moment.
So there you have it. You can check out “Clarity” right here, explore some pre-order options for some sweet merch (I want the bathrobe), and get ready for the unleashing of Volition on October 29th!