Review by saxystephens for Protest the Hero - Palimpsest (2020)
Protest The Hero are back with their first full length album since Volition from 2013 and a lot has changed around them in that time. I have always enjoyed this band, and not just because they were from Whitby, Ontario. No, Protest The Hero were a very unique band in the metalcore subgenre; they had the odd time signatures and overarching concepts to their albums, which has a lot of similarities with both mathcore and progressive metal, but they did it with an incredible knack for memorable songwriting, hooks, and personality.
Now, Protest The Hero joins the ranks of Sum 41 of Canadian bands getting into American politics. While it is not for me to tell them whether or not to get involved in this polarizing issue in 2020, Palimpsest is a hybrid album; one that combines songwriting from Kezia and Volition era PTH albums to create a new aesthetic. One that I really like and would never have expected to work as well as it did.
The songwriting on this album is super impressive. The technically demanding guitar parts with sweeping passages, fast guitar strumming and pummeling breakdown riffage is all packaged together in a package that one would expect, now that this band has been going strong for just over two decades now. The harsh screams of older albums are back and Rody Walker shows off his technical prowess by being able to switch back and forth between the two with relative ease and on a dime no less! Unfortunately, the bass does get the short end of the stick from time to time, and their are a couple of moments where the bass is nowhere to be found. One of the bands greatest strengths was their bass/guitar independence, and it seems like that has diminished over time. You know, the worst part about Volition era PtH.
But even with all of that said, I would still say that this is Protest The Hero's best record since Fortress with it's melodies and compositions. But the juicy stuff is in the content. A Palimpsest is, by definition, "a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain." Some have likened this to the colonization of America by Europeans during the fourteenth/fifteenth centuries, which is a fair argument. But It also feels very indebted to the modern era; where certain people have become so divided that they have to secede from the country in order to feel better about themselves. The laws of the land do not apply to them anymore, so they will just create their own, and invent new rules over top of the old rules.
This is a great return to from for Protest The Hero and it shows them reinventing the wheel once again. It seems like this band is trying to etch its way out of metalcore, but they have only become more consistent with it. Fortress will probably always be my No. 1, but this might just give Keiza a run for its money.