The 2014 Arsies: January 20, 2014

January 20, 2014

Welcome back, my friends... and let's quickly make with the metal!
Protest The Hero gets us going with their fourth studio album, Volition, and as is the band's custom, this recording is a progressive speed metal assault from the very first track. Everything that you would expect from PtH is here in spades: ridiculously musicianship, arbitrary time signature changes, and conspicuously awkward lyrics adorn every track on the album. But after a few songs that, frankly, sound like they could be from the last two albums, the band surprise us by showing signs of evolution, restraint, and even maturity. The back-to-back combo of Yellow Teeth and Plato's Tripartite is the high water mark, but the loftier PtH stays in attendance throughout the rest of the album. The very slight attenuation of their self-indulgence yields added focus and emotional weight to their riffs and motifs. Also, guest drummer Chris Adler (Lamb Of God) is a seamless replacement, and I like to think that he adds further grounding to the boys from Ontario. All told, this is easily PtH's best work of the last five years.
Then there's All Pigs Must Die. Take all of the virtuosity and complication of PtH, and replace it with repeated slow and angry punches to the breadbasket. For half an hour. And yet Nothing Violates This Nature is a noticeable improvement over the band's previous album, God Is War. The unfriendly wall of noise here is more focused and louder than ever, from the start is merciless and severe. And yet, here too is an album that starts to show more breadth, hinting at other genres like doom and sludge. This variety is a welcome bit of palate cleansing, but even so, Nothing Violates This Nature is a hell of a workout for the listener (which is impressive for an album that's barely more than an EP).
So despite the obvious power of All Pigs Must Die, it is Protest The Hero what takes the day. Huzzah! We'll see how they fare in two weeks. Tomorrow, we check out the return of Carcass, versus I Killed Everyone.

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