It wasn’t long after the curtain went down over the rounded stage at The Roxy before the crowd started chanting “Protest! Protest! Protest!” This would go on for roughly 30 minutes before the band would take the stage. Then, promptly after a brief “Oh shit, here we go” on the mic and a dimming of the lights, fans went nuts for Toronto’s Protest The Hero.
The band took the stage and the metal ensued. Fans immediately jumped on the stage to stage dive and crowd surf and wouldn’t stop for over an hour. There was a constant mass of raised fists and devil horns from the passionate and dedicated fans who seemed to know every song and came prepared to scream along and shake Sunset Boulevard.
If you aren’t familiar with Protest The Hero, imagine the fastest and heaviest Metallica songs, but heavier, faster, and harder to play. Their technicality is beyond impressive, and their new album, Volition, might be their heaviest and best written to date.
Allow me to nerd out musically for a moment. You know how most songs start with a “1, 2, 3, 4” count? Well, that doesn’t work with these guys because their timing goes well beyond 4. The counts vary nearly every other measure, creating a syncopated barrage of sound.
Beyond just their song structures, Protest The Hero’s musical precision is incredible. They match varying time signatures along with tap leads and fluttering drums while their singer combines brutal screams, epic melodies, and even a sort of metal scat (don’t worry, it’s not like that Korn thing Jon Davis does). Imagine if Lane Staley had a higher vocal range and fronted one of the most technically proficient metal bands out there. Yeah. That.
While their frontman has incredible energy and is constantly moving around the stage and interacting with the crowd, it seems that he is the only one doing so much of the time. The rest of the band seems to stand there and play, though it is beyond hard to be too critical of this considering everything they are playing. There is no way I could play what they play, nevermind rock out while doing it. That being said, there was a lot of crowd interaction and high fives in between songs, and their rhythm guitarist took his guitar out into the crowd to finish off one song.
Protest The Hero’s singer was hilarious, too. After the first few songs he joked about how they were “professional” musicians and how “all you have to do to be professional is get paid. I guess that makes me a professional beer drinker.” To his credit, the stage was littered with beer cans. He constantly made jokes and rants about things, including how their bassist looked like Wilson from Cast Away.
Four albums in, Protest had many songs to choose from to make a great set. They picked from all four and pleased all fans with heavy-hitting, fast, and epic selections, leaving a loving crowd sweaty and exhausted by the end of the show.
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