Protestant build fire, fury into their metallic-laced hardcore on crushing new ‘In Thy Name’

Protestant at Gilead Media Fest (photo by Adam Bubolz)

Protestant at Gilead Media Fest (photo by Adam Bubolz

As we return from our exile following the long, wholly fulfilling pilgrimage to Gilead Media Fest 2014, we head … right back into that very event. Well, sort of. See, when I finally arrived in Oshkosh, feverishly checked into the hotel with minutes to spare, and raced to the Masonic center, when I walked into the doors of the hallowed music hall, I instantly was met by one of the great forces of that fest.

On stage, absolutely ruling, were Protestant. These metallic, hardcore-informed veterans were destroying every happy face in the place, blasting through their day-opening set with a fury and exuberance that was noteworthy and infectious. How could you not immediately get swept up in their sonic assault right away? These guys have been stomping hands, pounding chests, and spreading their punk-fed ethos across the world by way of a number of releases, and their blistering new record “In Thy Name” is so vital, it’s taking two damn labels to get this thing into people’s hands. The great Halo of Flies will handle the release domestically, while the awesome and varied Throatruiner will get this bastard out into Europe. If you’ve been along for the whole ride, or at least a good portion of it, these eight songs will hit you where it counts.

Protestant coverOne thing I noticed from seeing the band live is that their sound is even more metal-encrusted than it is on their recordings. They even have some black metal-smeared streaks running through their roughhousing style, and it’s easy to understand how they can unite people from all kinds of audiences. On this record, they sound as vital and passionate as they ever have during their 10 years together, and it’s a damn pleasure to hear. In fact, I have found it makes for great running music when I’m on the treadmill or sweating it outside in 90 degrees, as its heaviness keeps me going, and its undeniable intensity helps the adrenaline flow.

“Vengeance” tears the lid off the record, with noise ringing out and everything eventually detonating. There’s a neat spacey woosh at points during this, but for the most part it’s a heaping dose of force, crazed vocals, and utter savagery. Great way to kick off an album. “Carrion” bathes in feedback before a hardcore-style stomp takes over and some of those aforementioned black metal-laced melodies show their hands. There are authoritative shouts, chunky thrashing, and clubbing madness that brings the track to its end. “Never Forget” also has heavy influence of the madness from the Nordic second wave, but it mixes with punk power to make for a face-splitting convulsion. The growls are gravelly, and the music feels raw and scorned. “Vultures” blows up right away, with soot and filth spewing all over and a particularly forceful burst of drumming leading the way and causing more wounds.

“Blood” moves slowly, calculatingly, and with a head for doom. That pace doesn’t last, as the band heads full speed back into madness, and the howls of “Crush all!” seem a fitting directive before the song ends in a blur. “In Thy Name/Hell’s Insanity” is blinding and violent, with dark metal shades giving an even more sinister edge, and harsh barks making you feel like a finger is being poked into your chest. The final moments let drone slip in, and that buzzes right into “Forfeit,” a relentless, devastating track that tears right into the flesh. The song winds down its killing force as it reaches its end, but it never loses an ounce of heaviness. Closer “Delusions” begins with shadowy melodies that cascade down, and eventually the vocals tear open the congealing wounds. The guitars catch fire and blaze forward, noise bubbles up and crusts over, and the last moments of burning find a way to sound like they’re flying at you in an uncontrollable rage. But in reality, they know right here they’re headed. Their aim is true, and it’s coming for your throat.

Protestant keep hammering us with great, energetic music with a heart and a volcanic personality. Seeing them live really made the experience an even greater one for me, and I’m happy to have made that connection. If you haven’t done so, make sure you do. In the meantime, “In Thy Name” is one you can hear on repeat, as it goes down that easily but also leaves you nice and bruised. This band keeps rolling along and building momentum, and as long as they keep giving us great music like this, there’s no reason to expect the Protestant storm clouds to subside.

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