Released: October 29th, 2013
Genre: Progressive, Metal
Genre: Progressive, Metal
Sounds Like: Dillinger Escape Plan
Number of Tracks: 11
Overall Rating: 8/10
'Without a word uttered a comparison is drawn.' - track 1, Clarity. This sums up PtH. Fortress and Kezia were great albums, so when a new release comes out; there's your benchmark. Does Volition live up to the previous work? Almost. Yes. Sort of. It's hard to say, really. It's an unmistakably PtHesque album, but it is also something different, a genuine step forward. Protest the Hero have always been an interesting band. Technical and intricate, the diverse vocal styles and lyrical content of their previous works have differentiated them from similar bands. So how does Volition hold up against what we already know about PtH?
The album does not shy away from technicality, this is first truly evident during track 3 – Tilting Against Windmills. This track features the trademark impressive guitar work we've come accustomed to from PtH and similarly impressive and polished vocals and it makes a good snapshot of the album. It's interesting to consider that in style, each album is relatively similar but at the same time they carry their own unique feel. It's easy to differentiate Heretics & Killers, Sequoia Throne, Hair-Trigger and Plato's Tripartite, but each song is easily identifiable as Protest the Hero and it's just as easy to differentiate between each album. On that, Volition does manage to have it's own feel whilst keeping the quintessentially PtH sound that fans have become accustomed to. It would be hard to imagine a track like Drumhead Trial appearing on Scurrilous.
The lyrical themes of the album are diverse, arguably even more so than previously. You can't really talk about this without mentioning track 9 – Underbite, which is a song that calls into question the motivation of bands and the relationship between a band and their fan base becoming disillusioned and the video (which can be found underneath this paragraph, check it out – it's brilliant) pokes fun at merchandise and references lip-synching. This is a particular high on the album and stands up well, especially in context of the video.
One negative point is that there is almost no bass in this album. On Fortress in particular the bass is normally very noticeable and typically excellent, but on this album it seems held back far too much. It's not completely absent, indeed there are a few brief highlights in Clarity and the final track Skies, where the bass is indeed noticeable but for the most part it is woefully under-emphasised.
To conclude, Volition is a pretty solid effort. It is a step forward in the genre and for the band. If you liked PtH's previous works, then you will adore this album. If you haven't heard of the band before then this is probably as good a place as any to start when it comes to listening to them, it offers a lot to existing fans and new fans alike.