After the success of their debut album “Kezia” back in 2005, Protest The Hero was expected to go into a more commercially viable and poppy influence. So what did the band do? They released “Fortress” in 2008, which was less poppy and more technical. As lead sing Rody Walker put it, “a natural progression into further obscurity.” Basically they wrote what they wanted to write and in the process created something so far removed from a commercial album than expected.
Let’s start with the song “Underbite” as the hilarious puppet clip is doing the rounds on YouTube right now. If you have seen the clip, you will note how the song focuses on artists that fake it. It is focusing on artists that don’t care about the fan experience. They are focusing on artists who see themselves as gods and their fans as stupid kids, who are expected to consume every piece of music they produce regardless if it’s good or not. It is focusing on the merchandise rip off.
In other words don’t rip off your fans. Work with them. Connect with them. Also from an artistic point of view, you need to write what you want to write NOT what you think people will like. Watch the clip and be humoured by their scathing satire of the rockstar mentality.
My favourite song on the album is “Mist.” The song is basically talking about Newfoundland and Rody Walker’s love for it and how once it is all over in music for him it is the place that he wants to settle down in. The lyrics about the “India” showing up back stage before the gig are hilarious and when they hit the stage after pulling a few beeries, it was the like the best show ever. Life throws up all these different paths. Try as many paths as you can, because in the end we are all as deep as the grave, marching to the heartbeat of the land.
“Skies” is what progressive music should be. It is a perfect amalgamation of so many different progressive styles. It’s about uncertainty and the only thing we know is that the “descent is all there truly ever is.”
Then you have the message in “Drumhead Trial.” The drumhead trial is noted for its lack of impartiality. Basically, you are judged by someone who likely hates you. A recent military trial from the US comes to mind.
“Tilting Against Windmills” is basically about the Catholic Church and how it deals with sexuality.
“Without Prejudice” deals with the fixation that people have on wealth. To extend the message to music bands existed once upon a time to create music and for people to hear that music. Then came the corporations and turned music into a monopolistic business. Then bands became fixated with wealth. Fast forward to the now and it’s back to what it was. Bands need to get people to listen again. Hence the reason why Spotify is a big player.
“Yellow Teeth” deals with people judging other people and basically bullying them, either verbally or on line or on blogs.
“Animal Bones” focuses on how Protest The Hero are proud of their past albums like “Kezia” and “Fortress” and while they are proud of those albums, they don’t want to be defined by them forever.
“A Life Embossed” covers new legislation against pitbulls.
Finally the album title. “Volition,” means “the power to make your own choices.” The band made the choice to not lock themselves in for another three album record deal. The band made a choice to use Indiegogo as a fundraiser campaign to record their album. They reached their target instantly. Eight thousand fans made the choice and dedicated their money to make sure another album happened without even hearing a single note of new music.
Then drummer, Moe Carlson, made the choice to leave the band and pursue a different career. Then the band made the choice to get Chris Adler of Lamb of God to track the drums for Volition.
Then the album cover has a message of how the media seems to glorify horrible situations. The media has the power to make choices and it seems they make the choice that involves making profits. The song “Plato’s Tripartite” covers this topic as it looks like it deals with how rape victims are turned into the villains and the monsters that commit the rape aren’t held responsible for their actions.
As an artist you have the power to make your own choices. Make them and live by them. Protest The Hero have. They are a special band. Support them.
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