Protest are a newer age US thrash metal band, and last year they dropped their sophomore album Abuse Of Power. They are not your typical brand of thrash metal, though. In fact, Protest have a lot of death metal facets in their music. If you strip away all of the layers and examine the bare base of this album, you can definitely see that everything was built from the bottom up on a foundation of thrash metal riffs. But man do they ever pile on some more extreme aspects that are gonna make this appeal to the death metal goers, quite possibly more than the thrash metal goers. There’s also some clear hardcore influences in here. Gone are the “party” like attitudes and inclusion of melody. Gone is the stripped down punk rock feel and energy that makes thrash what it is. All that remains in the realm of thrash is the way that the rhythm sections are written.
This all said, it’s very cleanly produced for this style of music, and everything works together very well to make a solid final cut. Speed is very present in Abuse Of Power, but it doesn’t entirely rely on that for all of the foundation. “Enlightened Masters” takes the tempo down a notch and hones in on thickness rather intensity. It also has a hardcore-like feel to the way the riffs are chugged, and combining this with the harsh vocals gives it a bit of a Hatebreed sound. Something that really makes this stick out as a harsher album is also the fact that there really aren’t any clean vocals. Moreover, they don’t vary that much, which is harder to do on works like this anyway, but it still took me a few listens to get used to. On the faster songs and slower ones alike, strong solo work is still important, and the cleanliness of them makes them shine very well. That, along with super concise rhythm sections and bridges, make it all worthwhile.
I think it’s fair to say that the drumming on this should get its own recognition, as it’s absolutely stellar. As mentioned, there are varying tempos in riff writing, shifting between speed picking from start to finish, and slower chug-like advancements. Whichever way it goes, the drums fills are spot on rhythmically and do a solid job of refraining from going stagnant. The title track really brings out the killer nature of this, and showcases the man behind the kit’s skill. Oh, and the constant use of blast beats and machine gun like drumming is another thing that gives this a death metal like vibe. Overall, sometimes the songs blend together a bit, because every ounce of this has the same angry attitude. This is pretty forgivable since the beefy riff construction and kick ass drum work together to help split it up some, but it’s definitely something to expect.
This is definitely a politically charged record (using excerpts from Donald Trump and other current American politicians as samples), as well as focusing on war and problems in politics in general. Personally, this makes it a little harder to get into, but it’s easy enough to overlook as well. Political stances definitely fueled the angry vibes that are felt on just about every minute of this forty two minute run. It has some flaws, but worth a listen, and anyone who likes thrash metal, death metal, and hardcore could probably walk away with something from this.
Abuse Of Power was released on November 10th, 2017 through Sound Of White Noise records, and can be purchased via Discogs or by sending an email to the label.