Kezia, by Protest the Hero
Suggested by Rob Wagner
I’m a chunky chap.
Actually, COVID and lockdown anxiety has led me to being a considerably less chunky chap than I was, but I’m still a far cry from the svelte ideal I have in my head. Who knows, maybe another six months of (almost) zero tolerance for takeouts and zero local availability of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk will see attain Form of a Twiglet. If only I could kick my chocolate spread addiction… seriously, I eat teaspoon after teaspoon, as if I fear Nutella will soon be extinct.
Generally, my issue is portion size. No matter what the foodstuff, I love a big plate. “Pile it on,” I say to my friend Toby Carvery, “the higher the better! Sure, I’ll pay an extra one-fifty for a bigger plate, and I’ll fashion a plate extension with a Yorkshire Pudding too!”
A Carvery or Buffet is perfect for me. Loads of choice, all you can eat, plate piled high with a thousand different flavours. Multiple trips to the table, because that’s cardio, right?
Musically, I have a different approach.
And that’s why Kezia, by Protest the Hero, was one of the most irritating albums I’ve ever heard.
Kezia is a Prog Metal Salad Bar, where the individual ingredients on offer are many, and they pile on the plate like a confusing mountain of sound. It’s technically adventurous, as you’d expect from Prog. The vocalist in particular has a wonderful range, from soaring screams to sub-vocal death growls and every stop in between. Actually, the Prog Metal moniker doesn’t encompass the vast array of genre sounds on offer. If I had to label this music, it’d be Prog Speed Power Death Metal, with a side dish of Rock.
And that’s the problem. It’s all of those things, multiple times, in every song. Pile it on, pile it high, that’s the way!
If there’s opportunity to shift in tempo, there’s a shift in tempo. Are you enjoying this crunchy riff? BAM! It’s gone. Wow, a cool piano bre- no hang on, it’s a drum solo. Well, thi- wait, it’s now standard thra- no ro- no, it’s now orchestra- oooh, the guitar solo has kic- the singer is almost rappi- keyboards now, swee- WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!
And that’s in the first song.
The style never settles. There’s no time to breathe. Every song is everything, at the same time as everything else. It’s exhausting. It sounds like anxiety, the aural manifestation of ADHD.
Choosing a top track is redundant. There are some amazing sections of songs, but they are gone in seconds, like a morning frost under a sweating yoga pose. I’ll single out Blindfolds Aside for praise, but when all the songs are so densely packed they meld into one orgiastic harrumph.
There’s a banquet here, but it’s on a conveyor belt, plates whizzing by as you grab at fistfuls of food in a futile attempt to fill your face. After much vacillation, I’m sitting at 4/10 for this album. I liked it in places, but those places shifted beneath me before I found my footing.