Live Review: PROTEST THE HERO Bring Proggy Goodness To Sacramento
On Monday March 17th, everyone’s other, other favorite progressive band from Canada descended on The Assembly in Sacramento to headline an eclectic evening of metal, and Metal Injection was there to experience it.
Protest The Hero is one of those bands that seems to be difficult to package on a tour. Their openers over the years have run the gamut of the metal genre and this tour was no different. Sure there are bands that aren’t for some people, but at least there’s a little something for everybody.
The evening began with Night Verses, and the band won over an early and sparsely populated room with their unique blend of metalcore and groove metal. I give utmost credit to their drummer Aric Improta who channeled the Muppet Animal and shined as the band’s charismatic madman from behind his kit. Ultimately, this band wasn't for me, but I get the appeal.
Next up was the once-instrumental turned not-so-instrumental Intervals from Toronto. The band fronted by ex-Haarp Machine vocalist Mike Semesky was the first band that a majority of the room (which was still filling) knew and was there to see. They did not disappoint their fans in attendance with their well-crafted djent-ish guitar wankery.
My personal favorite band going into the evening, The Safety Fire, then took the stage. The U.K. quintet plowed through much of their well-balanced set of material from their two albums until a guitar tech issues prompted an impromptu “drum and bass version” of one of their songs. The band battled said issue through the latter chunk of their set, but were able to end strong. A highlight of the set had to be their Mouth of Swords track “Beware The Leopard (Jagwar)” which featured a billowing Tommy Rogers (BTBAM) through the house PA.
On paper, the direct support slot by Michigan’s Battlecross makes no sense. The band is sandwiched between two technical/progressive melodic acts. Yes, Battlecross have melody, but they’re primarily a crushing an audience rather than inciting sing-alongs with them. However, the Sacramento crowd fucking LOVED them. Their set of thrashy death metal songs (or perhaps deathy thrash songs?) featured the first circle pit of the night and the floor remained active throughout their entire set. In fact, the circle only paused to appreciate the banter of frontman Kyle Gunther. Also, it should be noted that while Battlecross is a guitar centric band, bassist Don Slater is an absolute god.
Finally the moment the audience was waiting for, Protest the Hero took the stage. As enthused as much of the crown was for Battlecross this room belonged to the headliner. The set consisted largely of material from the new album, Volition, which I had no problem with as a big fan of the record. What did amaze me was how well it paired with Fortress classics like “Sequoia Throne” and “Bloodmeat.”
I’m not exactly sure why I was surprised to find that vocalist Rody Walker’s is a great frontman, but he was. His in-between song persona is that of a straight up stand-up comic. It is hard to tell if either his rant about bands playing while wearing sunglasses on stage or his confession that his guttural vocal style were inspired by The Claw from Doctor Gadget were planned ahead, but regardless they were hilarious. It made a set that was already enjoyable, fantastic.
The band is one of the tightest I’ve ever seen, perhaps second only to Between the Buried and Me. If you’re a fan that has been putting off seeing them, or a fan of prog metal at all, get your ass to a show of theirs.
Check out an older liver performance below and catch them on their dates listed here.